INSPECTION DISPUTE: EU retailers, BGMEA face off today

Staff Correspondent

Apparel exporters will demand that Accord, a platform of retailers and brands of European Union, should not conduct any operation in the readymade garment sector of Bangladesh beyond the purview of the laws of land.
They will make the demand at a meeting between the steering committee of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to be held today at the BGMEA office in the capital.
In the meeting, the BGMEA will place two more demands concerning clear declaration from Accord
about remediation financing and assurance of viability of investment in remediation.
Concerns of both the parties over the ongoing safety initiative will be discussed in the meeting as the recent comments made by finance minister AMA Muhith and BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam put negative impact on the retailers’ mood.
On June 15, at a meeting with the leaders of the BGMEA, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, Muhith described Alliance, a platform of North American retailers and brands, and Accord as a ‘noose for the garment industry’.
In the meeting, the BGMEA president described Accord as a ‘big problem’ for the Bangladesh’s readymade apparel industry.
Following the comments, two global trade unions — IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union — strongly condemned the comments and termed the remarks as ‘inaccurate and irresponsible’.
The signatories of Accord suggested that the BGMEA should discuss all the concerns about the operations of Accord in the meeting with the Accord steering committee rather than airing them first in the media.
To face Accord in the today’s meeting, the BGMEA took tough preparations through discussion with the former presidents of the trade body.
The incumbent leaders of the BGMEA and a former president of the trade body on Monday found out some activities of Accord, which, they think, were conducted beyond the purview of laws, to discuss in the meeting.
A BGMEA source said that the garment sector leaders would oppose the Accord’s interventions regarding trade union in the factories and benefits of closed factory workers.
They will also renew their reservations over the Accord provision of instalment of auto sprinkler in the factories as the provision is not mandatory in the laws of land.
‘In the meeting, we will raise three issues including clearer indication about remediation financing, conducting safety operation under laws of land and assurance of viability of our investment to be done for the remediation work,’ BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age on Monday.
Buyers have to ensure their stance over further work orders and continuation of business relation, as factory owners will have to invest a huge amount of money to implement the corrective action plans provided by Accord, he said.
Azim said that despite repeated assurance the retailers’ platform was yet to provide any fund for remediation.
The BGMEA has been alleging for the last couple of months that Accord and its executive director Rob Wayss were doing activities beyond the purview of the laws of land.
The trade body also several times described the platform as a big problem for the RMG sector.
IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union recently claimed that Rob faced egregious conduct by a factory which disciplined union activists for reporting unsafe conditions.
The global unions hoped that the BGMEA would call on the factory to correct its behaviour.
Following the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people mostly garment workers, the EU brands and retailers formed Accord with a commitment of upgrading member factories to meet international fire and safety standards.
Accord has inspected about 1,600 factories from which its members source and is working to implement corrective action plan.

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