Accord-Alliance rift deepens over RMG factory inspection

Accord declines to consider inspection by individual Alliance brand

Moinul Haque
A file photo shows workers busy at a readymade garment factory in Dhaka. The rift between the North American retailers’ group Alliance and the European group Accord over the Bangladesh garment safety inspection has surfaced again as Accord on Friday declined to accept inspection of any factory by any individual retailer under Alliance. — New Age photo

A file photo shows workers busy at a readymade garment factory in Dhaka. The rift between the North American retailers’ group Alliance and the European group Accord over the Bangladesh garment safety inspection has surfaced again as Accord on Friday declined to accept inspection of any factory by any individual retailer under Alliance. — New Age photo

The rift between the North American retailers’ group Alliance and the European group Accord over the Bangladesh garment safety inspection has surfaced again as Accord on Friday declined to accept inspection of any factory by any individual retailer under Alliance.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in a statement on initial inspections at Accord-Alliance common factories said, ‘Accord cannot give consideration to Alliance inspection reports produced under the direction of Alliance brands.’
Alliance has already taken into consideration inspections of more than 200 garments done by the Walmart-appointed third party consultant. Walmart is a member of Alliance.
The group appointed engineering firms and completed inspection of around 400 factories with around 200 more Walmart factories marked as inspected.
Bangladesh garment factory owners said that the latest stance of Accord not to accept the individual factory inspection would be a further blow to the embattled garment industry.
‘As per the new stance of Accord, more than 200 factories will have to be inspected again even after the completion of inspection by the American retailers, mostly by Walmart,’ Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age.
There are around 340 garment factories which are common suppliers to the American and European retailers.
Accord has listed 1,600 including 340 common factories for inspection.
The retailers’ group in its statement has admitted that there was a strong desire by the government, factory owners and brands to avoid duplication of inspections at factories producing both for Accord and Alliance signatory brands.
But, Accord said that it would only consider inspection reports of Alliance on three conditions.
The group wants all corrective action plans for a faulty unit will have to meet the approval of the Accord’s chief safety inspector, the Accord programmes will be fully carried out including follow up inspections during the remediation process and all Accord obligations will remain in full effect for Accord brands regardless of whether Alliance brands accept these obligations.
BGMEA leaders said these conditions by Accord on the common units inspected by Alliance would also affect the inspection process and production at the units.
They said that Alliance and Accord seemed to be on rift over the inspection as the European retailers felt that Alliance was lenient in factory inspection.
Accord, on the other hand, has been criticised for its tough stance on the inspection process and its reluctance in giving any fund to workers of any factory closed during the inspection.
After the Rana Plaza factory collapse on April 24 last year that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, Western retailers and apparel brands, reacting to public outrage, began a major push to improve safety at the Bangladeshi factories they do business with.
But instead of joining forces, the Western brands have divided into two sometimes feuding camps — a result, some say, detracts from the overall effort, reported New York Times.
One group, Accord, has more than 160 members, including many European brands like H&M, Carrefour and Mango, as well as 14 American companies.
The other group — the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety — includes 26 companies, all of them American or Canadian. Walmart, Gap, Target and Kohl’s are among the members of the group.
Some members of the American-dominated Alliance say that their side has performed more inspections than the European-dominated Accord, while some Accord members assert that the Alliance’s inspections are less rigorous.
Accord members say they work closely with labour unions and have extensive input from workers, while the Alliance’s members assert that Accord has not provided wages to workers who were laid off when their factory was temporarily closed after inspectors found serious problems.
Around 20 garment factories have so far been shut during the inspection of the groups, leaving more than 18,000 workers jobless.
Azim told New Age that he hoped that Alliance and Accord would reduce their gap regarding the inspection process. ‘Accord should consider the inspection reports of any individual brand under Alliance,’ he said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement