The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Accord on Fire Safety in Bangladesh have finalized the establishment of RMG Sustainability Council and have signed an agreement over the transition of Accord’s responsibility to the RSC.
The BGMEA and the European Union retailers’ platform Accord in a meeting on Tuesday signed the deal, agreeing to the articles of association for the RSC with the aim of transferring all major functions of the Accord office in Bangladesh to the RSC before May 31, 2020 on some conditions.
The conditions include maintenance of existing transparency with full public disclosure of inspection results and remediation activities and continuation of Accord’s safety and health complaints mechanism independently and autonomously.
BGMEA president Rubana Huq, acting Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Mohammad Hatem and Accord deputy director Joris Oldenziel, among others, were present at the signing ceremony.
On Wednesday afternoon, Accord and the BGMEA issued a joint statement, saying the representatives of Accord’s Steering Committee and the apparel exporters met in Dhaka to finalise the Articles of Association for the RMG Sustainability Council.
“The council is an unprecedented national supply chain initiative, uniting the industry, brands and trade unions to ensure a sustainable solution to carry forward the significant accomplishments made on workplace safety in Bangladesh,” said the statement.
BGMEA President Dr Rubana Huq said, “Accord will cease their functions in Bangladesh and hand over all responsibilities to a national collaborative committee formed by us, in which the brands, unions and the industry will be together to monitor factories.
“We are taking over resources from Accord and will follow their protocols with a national context.”
Meanwhile, BKMEA Director Fazle Shamim Ehsan said, “The RMG Sustainability Council will be governed by a board of directors comprised of an equal number of representatives from the industry, brands and trade unions.
“The board will have 18 members. Among them, six will represent Accord and six will represent apparel exporters and six will represent labour leaders.”
The RMG Sustainability Council will operate within the regulatory framework in accordance with the laws of Bangladesh, closely co-operating with and supporting the regulatory functions of the government.
It will also retain all health and safety inspections and remediation, safety training and complaints handling functions currently carried out by Accord.
In September last year, the representatives of the BGMEA and the Accord Steering Committee met in Dhaka to discuss the establishment of the RMG Sustainability Council, as previously agreed on May 8, 2019.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 23, 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, the buyers and brands of EU formed the Accord to improve the workplace safety in the Bangladesh’s apparel sector for five years that ended in May, 2018.
The platform wanted an extension for three more years but the government did not allow it.
As per a High Court directive, the Accord would be eligible to run its operation in Bangladesh until May, 2020.
All parties agreed that all operations, staff, infrastructure, and functions of the Accord office in Dhaka would be transferred to the RSC and it would appoint a chief safety officer, retaining the same independence, autonomy, authorities, and reporting requirements practiced by the Accord.
The statement also said that factories currently covered by the Accord would be carried over to the RSC, retaining their remediation status and any outstanding remediation requirements as per the factory’s corrective action plan.