Accord launches direct financial support program for factories and wants to stay 3 more years after 2018

Staff Correspondent       
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Four years on, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a platform of European retailers and brands, significantly improved unresolved safety hazards at garment factories in Bangladesh and it launches a direct financial support program to help factories complete remediation process. However, it will not be able to complete remediation work within the specific deadline. Rob Wayss, executive director and acting chief safety inspector of the Accord, said this while addressing the media on the occasion of its four-year completion in a webinar on 8 May.

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“We must remain vigilant to drive remediation to completion as we still see too many factories with major safety concerns unfixed,” he said.

“There is wide consensus among the signatories to the Accord, global unions and its local affiliates that the work of the Accord will not be completed by June 2018,” said Wayss. The signatories to the Accord are now discussing to extend the term by three more years after its expiry, he informed.

The unprecedented model of independent inspections, collective brand leverage, public disclosure, accountability and bi-partite governance has proven to be successful. The achievements are laudable with 65 fully remediated factories and more than 400 factories, which have completed more than 90% of required safety remediation, He added.

Figure 1: Inspection Program Figures (May, 2017)
Figure 1: Inspection Program Figures (May, 2017)

Entering the final year of the current agreement, a direct financial support program is launched to help factories complete remediation.  Accord want to ensure that major and costly safety measures, such as protected fire exits, fire alarm and fire protection systems and structural retrofitting work can and will be remediated urgently, said Joris Oldenziel, Head of Public Affairs at the Netherlands office of the Accord.  “The Accord Remediation Fund will provide qualified suppliers with access to direct funding for 50% of remaining remediation costs for covered factories with no current Accord business. This direct support is limited and will be implemented on a first come first serve basis,” he added.

Figure 2: Showing Accord progress
Figure 2: Showing Accord progress

Accord emphasized on to establish the Safety Committee and Safety Training program at as many factories as possible and effectively address safety complaints filed at factory Safety Committees or through the Accord safety complaints mechanism.

Looking beyond 2018, apparel brands, retailers and unions are in discussions on how to best ensure that safety regulations and safety rights in the RMG industry in Bangladesh are adequately upheld and further developed, said Joris Oldenziel. He highlighted key milestones of Accord, which have been achieved in last four years.

  • Remediation is close to completion at more than 400 Accord factories which have completed more than 90% of the remediation.
  • 65 Factories have completed all remediation from initial inspections.
  • Over 300 joint labor-management Safety Committees are being trained and equipped to monitor factory safety on a day-to-day basis.
  • The independent and credible Accord safety complaints mechanism has resolved more than 90 safety complaints from workers and their representatives

After the Rana Plaza building disaster in April 2013, which killed more than 1100 people-most of them were labor-the Accord was established to build a safe and healthy Bangladeshi RMG industry. It is formed on legally binding agreement between more than 220 global apparel companies, retailers and global trade unions.

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