Presence of Accord-Alliance in Bangladesh readymade garments industry is contributing in increasing of the manufacturer’s production cost immensely, though other rival country’s apparel industry is Accord-Alliance free. So, Bangladesh is facing more struggle in the global market.
The recent threat by Accord to declare 532 apparel factories ineligible to produce products for its signatory brands by 1 January 2019 is really a cause of worry to think twice about their objective. Not only that, in case of closure of Accord operation in Bangladesh by November 30, the European Parliament, the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union, passed a resolution on 15 November 2018. The resolution called upon the European Commission to review the preferential trade status of Bangladesh, claiming that the government of Bangladesh is violating the conditions set out by the Accord, the Sustainability Compact and the terms of their most favorable trade arrangement with the EU.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety came here to monitor the readymade garments (RMG) factories following the Rana Plaza collapse that killed 1,135 workers on 24 April 2013. After around six years of the deadly accident, Bangladesh RMG industry is in a position that nobody has ever seen before. Alliance described the progress achieved in fortifying worker safety as “unprecedented and serves as a model for other countries to follow”.
As a sovereign country, Bangladesh has own way and strategy to monitor its RMG industry’s overall safety condition. When it was necessary to take Accord’s help the government did not hesitate to take their help. Accord needs to understand they are still in Bangladesh, as the government wanted it and they have to leave Bangladesh by November 30, as the government wants it. Accord should leave the country with respect to the government’s decision. And they should not blame our millers or the government for their failure of completing their remediation tasks by November 30.
A few days ago, a buyer said, “To this subject I can share my experience, seeing a lot of factories around Europe and other countries, nowhere I faced such a comprehensive and strict regulations regarding safety and securities as in Bangladesh. Nowhere had I seen more investment in safety then in Bangladesh.”
Global compliance standards need to be established that way, as it does not vary from country to country, and in line with these standards. But we see compliance standards are not the same for all the rival countries. It is a question, asked by all millers of Bangladesh RMG industry, why is Accord-Alliance absence in our rival countries? Some answer that Rana Plaza disaster did not happen in rival countries so that they are not there, that means they are waiting for a similar disaster in other countries! What a silly excuse it is! Because this should be a moral proactive obligation, they should practice it rather than a disaster dependent reaction. To uphold their own credibility they should roll out similar programs to the countries involved in the textile supply value chain.
Gradually millers getting less price
Our RMG millers have invested immensely to ensure fire, building and workers safety, however, what did they get in return to their investment?
Mark Anner, Director of Penn State University’s Center for Global Workers’ Rights, reported in a study released in March 2018 that brands are generally paying less for garments today than they did before Rana Plaza.
According to the report, the price of men’s and boy’s cotton trousers exported to the US (Bangladesh’s top garment export to the country) fell about 13% between 2013 and 2017. Similarly, the price paid for t-shirts exported to the EU (again, Bangladesh’s top garment export in that case) fell about 5%. External factors, such as cotton prices and exchange rates, could not account for the drops.
In light of the vast improvements that have been made regarding compliance across the apparel industry of Bangladesh since 2013, I believe that it is not unrealistic to expect customers to be prepared to offer better unit prices for products in recognition of what has been achieved over the last five years.
Factory owners are thankful to Accord and Alliance for their help to make the Garments Industry great in every aspect of compliance. Their help has now become a strength for the industry as now Bangladesh has more compliant factory than before and now they deserve a better price to maintain this standard.
Factory owners expressed their wish that Accord and Alliance should manage their members to pay a fair price to the Industry. At the same time, Accord and Alliance should take same working policies in regard to other competitor countries to have a fair competition in the Apparel Industries, as like as fair wage competition.
“In light of the vast improvements that have been made regarding compliance across the apparel industry of Bangladesh since 2013, I believe that it is not unrealistic to expect customers to be prepared to offer better unit prices for products in recognition of what has been achieved over the last five years,” Mostafiz Uddin, Founder & CEO of Bangladesh Denim Expo, expressed in his recent write up.