Bangladesh: Accord to continue operations for 281 working days as transition agreement is reached
On 19 May 2019, after months of delays and uncertainty, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building finally struck a deal with the Bangladesh Garment Employers Association (BGMEA) concerning the future of its operations in the country. A memorandum of understanding written by the two entities and endorsed by the Government of Bangladesh was approved by the country’s Appellate Court yesterday.
According to the memorandum of understanding, the Bangladesh Accord has agreed to leave Bangladesh in 281 working days. A new safety entity called RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) will be established during this period. It will be governed by a board consisting of representatives of the BGMEA, fashion brands and national trade unions. Once the Accord leaves Bangladesh, RSC will inherit both its staff and infrastructure. Additionally, the RSC will work in cooperation with the government of Bangladesh to ensure its work complements the work of the Remediation Coordination Cell.
Established in 2013 by 200 international brands after the Rana Plaza factory building collapse, the Bangladesh Accord is an independent organization conducting safety inspections in garment factories. Last year, the Bangladesh government ordered the organization to cease its operations by November 30, claiming that its national regulatory body, the Remediation Coordination Cell, is fully capable of taking over their work. The Accord disagreed and a legal battle ensued.
While many have welcomed the extension deal, concerns have been voiced that the terms and conditions of the extension threaten to undermine the Accord's independence.