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26 Oct 2020

Clean Clothes Campaign, Maquila Solidarity Network, Worker Rights Consortium, International Labour Rights Forum

Bangladesh: Accord Witness Signatories express concern that RSC’s assumption of responsibility for garment factory safety endangers workers

“Amidst Covid-19 Crisis, Untested Industry Group Assumes Safety Responsibilities for Bangladesh Garment Factories Despite Concerns”, October 2020

Unfortunately, as described in this brief, the RSC is unprepared to take on this essential safety role. The RSC’s takeover of the Accord’s Bangladesh operations is the outcome of a protracted campaign by the Government of Bangladesh and factory owners…

Unlike the Accord … the RSC is governed by a board of directors that is made up predominantly of representatives of brands and factory owners, with representatives of unions making up only a third of its members.

Preparations for the transition of the Accord’s local factory inspection operations in Bangladesh to the newly formed RSC were hampered … by the Covid-19 pandemic. Calls from worker rights and safety advocates to postpone the transition until the crisis abates and industry conditions stabilize … were ignored.

The hasty and ill-advised transition that has occurred as a result has left the safety of Bangladesh’s garment workers in the hands of a RSC that is woefully unprepared to fulfill its immediate responsibilities.

… [O]ur organizations are concerned that this rushed transition exacerbates other problems posed by the RSC’s assumption of the Accord’s in-country responsibilities and threatens the viability of continued progress toward factory safety in Bangladesh.

As the global apparel industry faces a new crisis, during which maintaining orders and preventing the spread of Covid-19 in workplaces have quickly become top priorities for brands and manufacturers alike, it is all the more important to ensure that strong, credible measures are in place to complete and sustain the Accord’s critical safety work. The purpose of this briefing is to outline the steps needed to safeguard this progress.