BGMEA wants its rep in Accord steering body

Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Tuesday demanded inclusion of its representative in the steering committee of the Accord, the platform of European buyers and retailers, to reduce the gap between the BGMEA and Accord that became visible in recent time regarding safety operation.
In a meeting with the Accord, the BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam said that there are some misunderstandings between the two parties on various aspects as there is no direct representation of the BGMEA in the Accord.
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 on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh with a commitment of upgrading member factories to meet international fire and safety standards.
Accord has inspected about 1,300 factories from which its members source their products and is working to implement corrective action plan.
‘The Accord should include the BGMEA representative in its steering committee to reduce the gap between the factory owners and the retailers’ platform. Nowadays the misunderstanding is increasing as factory owners have no scope to discuss their concerns with the Accord directly,’ the BGMEA president told reporters after the meeting.
According to Atiq, the Accord officials agreed with the BGMEA that inclusion of factory owners’ representation can reduce misunderstanding between factory owners and Accord.
In the meeting, Accord officials urged the BGMEA leaders not to make any negative comment on the initiative which can put a negative impact on their image as well as safety operation.
Responding the request, BGMEA said that Accord should not make public the faults of the factories through the international media without consulting with the BGMEA, the meeting source said.
In the meeting, the BGMEA discussed that to some extent the Accord’s job is beyond the law of the land as factory owners received threat from the Accord to declare their units non-compliant for not reinstating workers who have been terminated as per the law.
Factory owners alleged that the Field Resource People engaged by the Accord are agitating workers and damaging labour-management relations instead to raise awareness among the workers.
They discussed that the government set review panel was the authority to take decision in factory closure after inspection, but Accord advised brands to stop production and to pull out orders before the decision from the review committee.
The Accord assured BGMEA that the platform would conduct its safety operation in the readymade garment sector complying with the laws of the land, the BGMEA leaders said.
On the remediation issue, the BGMEA said that factories remained under pressure from the buyers group to replace the fire doors and other safety equipments that had been installed as per the requirements of buyers before the launching of Accord.
Financial capacity is most important for a factory to take actions for Detailed Engendering Assessment and Corrective Action Plan, but financial assistance is not forthcoming from the buyers as expected.
The BGMEA demanded that considering the remediation costs, buyers should increase the price of products.
It also demanded to continue procurement from the shared building factories that were found
safe for operation and carrying out remediation works.
The former presidents of the BGMEA Abdus Salam Murshedy, Shafiul Islam, vice president Shahidullah Azim, Accord executive director Rob Wayss, and chief safety inspector Brad Loewen and Regional Head (Bangladesh & Pakistan) of H&M Roger Hubert attended the meeting.

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