Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building safety to cease operations in country by end of Nov 2018 unless govt. grants extension

Bangladesh Accord

Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety was launched by trade unions and brands in May 2013 following the Rana Plaza factory building collapse the previous month that killed over a 1,100 workers. It is a legally binding agreement designed to build a safe and healthy Bangladeshi Ready Made Garment (RMG) Industry.  Further information about the Accord can be found here

There was an initial agreement to extend the Accord beyond its inital 5 year term for another 3 years, the "Transition Accord".  However, a restraining order was issued by the High Court in Bangladesh in April 2018 on the Transition Accord. The result of this was that after 30th November the Accord could no longer operate.

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26 October 2018

Bangladesh: Accord to departs on Nov 30

Author: Refayet Ullah Mirdha, The Daily Star, Bangladesh

"Accord departs Nov 30"

The government will not extend the tenure of the Accord [a platform of nearly 200 mainly European retailers] beyond November 30, ending the hopes of the European agency for factory inspection and remediation to stay on in Bangladesh for three more years…

A few months ago the Supreme Court said there is no scope for extension of the tenure of the Accord, so the government cannot do anything more on this matter…[T]he Accord has started handing over the remediated factories to the RCC [Remediation Coordination Cell], an entity under the labour and employment ministry formed in May last year.

…a total of 60 engineers have been recruited for running the operations of RCC, formed to oversee the remediation and inspection after the departure of the Accord and Alliance [the North American inspection and remediation agency] from Bangladesh…

The RCC will recruit another 40 engineers soon to take the tally past 100, which is enough for skilful operation of the platform. Since the RCC has been formed in consultation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), it has also sponsored some skilled engineers for the RCC.

...Rob Wayss, executive director of the Accord, said the agency submitted a transition plan to the labour ministry in the middle of September...

The factories that were handed over to the RCC have completed the remediation of safety hazard findings...

[T]he Alliance's tenure will automatically come to an end at the close of this year as it did not apply for an extension…


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24 October 2018

Commentary: What about the sustainability of compliance after the Bangladesh Accord and Alliance?

Author: Rubana Huq, The Daily Star, Bangladesh

"Perhaps Platform S?"

When Accord and Alliance came to town, the brands and retailers had offered assurance of business continuity and were paying for the audits and assessments. Taking financial responsibility for factory remediation was…the manufacturer's end of the bargain. In five years [a] total [of] 1,159 factories have gone out of business. In response to growing demands of remediation, Bangladeshi manufacturers have either chosen to grow or quit…

…Even with increased capacities, manufacturers will continue receiving orders with lesser margins and a lower FOB (Free on Board) price…

After five years, with the possibility of Accord coming to an end on November 30, 2018 and Alliance on December 31, brands are left wondering about the future of the readymade garment industry in Bangladesh with respect to compliance codes…

The RCC [Remediation Coordination Cell] was set up in May 2017 to supervise and monitor the remediation of factories under the Bangladesh government's National Initiative. Out of the 809 National Initiative factories undergoing follow-up by Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), 107 are fully remediated...

Ultimately, RCC hopes to offer a “one-stop-shop” service issuing factory building, fire, electrical and occupancy permits.

Since the industry is very familiar with the initial rules of engagement focusing on structural, fire and electrical integrity, all we need today is a private-sector-led structure to sustain all the improvement that has been made… For easy reference, let's call it Platform S (S for shomman, meaning “respect” in Bengali)…

If the industry is subjected to prescriptions from stakeholders from abroad, then the basic ability to reform ourselves will be in doubt…The best way forward would be a way to transition into a plan of self-monitoring initiated by the industry itself, which will be appropriate for the owners, workers, brands, unions and the rest.

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17 May 2018

Accord's extension runs into trouble

Author: Refayet Ullah Mirdha, The Daily Star

The Accord's bid to prolong its stay in Bangladesh became uncertain after the High Court yesterday extended its restraining order on the government from extending the inspection agency's tenure by three more months. Earlier on May 10, the EU-based factory inspection and remediation agency got the extension from the government to stay on in Bangladesh for six more months after its original five-year tenure ends on May 31.The High Court last month had restrained the government from extending the inspection agency's tenure following a writ petition filed by Chittagong-based Smart Jeans, which felt wronged by the platform of 220 EU-based retailers.Now, Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Salim of the Supreme Court in a verdict have extended the restraining order by three more months, said a statement issued by Md. Yousuf Ali, an advocate of the Supreme Court. This means the secretary to the ministry of labour and employment, inspector general of the Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishment and the secretary to the ministry of commerce cannot extend the Accord's tenure. 

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