RMG factory remediation under Alliance going on at snail’s pace

Only six factories achieve international standards

Staff Correspondent
Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety director James Moriarty speaks at a press conference at the Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on Thursday. — New Age photo

Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety director James Moriarty speaks at a press conference at the Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on Thursday. — New Age photo

The remediation work in the readymade garment factories under the initiative of Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of North American brands and retailers, is going on at a slow pace.
By July 2015, the second year of its initiative, the platform completed final inspections at only 1.2 per cent of the 662 factories where it had conducted initial inspections in 2014.
Alliance at a press conference at the Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka said that they had completed final inspection process at eight factories and found six of them achieved the standards set by the platform.
The Factories are: Green Textile, Kuntal Apparel, Leni Apparel. Laundry Industry, Optimum Fashions and Univac Fashions.
Earlier, Alliance had announced its target to complete final inspections at 10 per cent of the factories by July 2015.
At the press conference, Alliance director James Moriarty said the remediation was going on at a slow pace and there were different issues behind the slow progress.
‘The import of fire doors takes time and expertise is required to install the doors,’ he said mentioning the lack of availability of safety equipments and expertise.
Moriarty, also former US ambassador to Bangladesh, said that in the second year of Alliance six factories completed all of the remediation work and ensured highest international standards of safety.
‘By making financing widely available and affordable and working with factory owners to make necessary repairs Alliance is making factories safer for millions of workers,’ he said.
At the briefing, Alliance executive director Mesbah Rabin presented the second yearly report of the platform.
According to the report, Alliance completed its safety inspections in 528 factories in its first year and started remediation verification visits in the next year.
In its second year Alliance completed first remediation verification visits in 528 factories and found that the remediation progress at 154 factories was less than 20 per cent, 251 factories made progress between 21 per cent to 40 per cent, progress at 133 factories was 41– 60 per cent and 19 factories made 61— 80 per cent progress.
The platform has so far completed the second remediation verification visits at only 17 factories, the report said.
An earlier report of the platform published in March this year said, ‘By 2017 — year four of Alliance — our goal is to have 100 per cent of factories complete their final assessments.’
In the report Alliance said individual Alliance members made available $100 million of financing to factories in their supply chain and the International Finance Corporation released $50 million of credit through five local banks for ensuring remediation in medium and small factories.
It also said that a total of $18 million of credit to be made available through USAID.
‘We expand finance specially for ensuring remediation in medium and small factories and the scheme will be finalised by the end of this month,’ Janina Jaruzelski, Bangladesh mission director of the USAID, said in the press conference.
The loan will be disbursed through United Commercial Bank and Prime Bank, she added.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, in April 2013, North American retailers including Walmart and Gap formed Alliance undertaking a five-year plan which set time frames and accountability for inspections and training and workers empowerment programmes.
Alliance started inspection in the Bangladesh garment factories in February 2014 and completed primary safety assessment at its listed 662 factories by July that year.
Alliance found immediate risks at 22 factories and sought decisions from a government-set review panel. The panel closed eight factories fully, 12 partially and allow two to operate with reduced load.

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