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Bangladesh: Clean Clothes Campaign questions employer influence in new Accord agreement

"Questions raised after agreement reached on Bangladesh Accord", 21 May 2019

...This memorandum concludes a period of uncertainty about the Accord’s future in the country...but does not take away the feeling of uncertainty entirely, by remaining ambiguous about the immediate impact on the workings of the Accord. It also raises questions on vital elements of the follow up institution foreseen...

...The agreed presence of a “BGMEA unit”...and the exact function of this unit, are sources of concern. According to the MoU, factories’ Corrective Action Plans will be evaluated in collaboration with this unit. This raises questions about employers’ influence over the independent decision-making processes of Accord staff. Furthermore, a visible employers’ presence inside the Accord office might negatively impact the willingness of workers to rely on its complaint mechanism...

Fears exist that the BGMEA...will try to use this unit to exert undue influence on the Accord’s independent functioning against the intent of the MoU...

The MoU does not...provide clarity on what will be the the new institution’s decision-making structure, finance mechanism, or enforcement mechanism...This means that serious questions raised by the addition of a new stakeholder (employers) to the programme remain unaddressed...It is also unclear what the apparent exclusion of NGO watchdogs from this new body will mean for the...transparency of this institution..."

The insistence on a time-bound transition process raises the question as to what has happened to the agreement reached with the BGMEA and government of Bangladesh in 2017, which stated that the Accord would only transition its tasks to a Bangladeshi safety body if that organization could first be shown to meet strict, jointly agreed-upon readiness criteria...

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