Overall remediation progress by the Bangladesh Accord is at around 80%

Overall remediation progress by the Bangladesh Accord is at around 80%

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh says major life-threatening safety concerns remain outstanding in too many of the factories it monitors – although it hopes the vast majority will be fully remediated when its initial tenure comes to an end in May 2018.

In a quarterly progress update to 1 October published yesterday (16 November), the Accord noted that just 120 of the 1,699 factories it monitors are 100% remediated from initial inspections, representing around 7% of the total.

The body has marked overall remediation progress at around 80%, which is calculated by looking at the progress rate of the most common fire, electrical, and structural items that need to be remediated. For example, 94.8% of factories have removed lockable and/or collapsible gates, and the full installation of fire alarm and fire detectors, including final verification of testing and commissioning, has been completed at 31.3% of the factories.

"While marking the significant overall remediation progress rate of 80%, major life-threatening safety concerns remain outstanding in too many factories and need to be fixed urgently," a spokesperson for the Accord told just-style. "We are confident that 665 factories that have already reached 90% or more remediation will be fully remediated soon."

Of the work yet to be completed by the Accord, 75 corrective action plans (CAPs) are yet to be implemented, while 112 have not yet been finalised.

The spokesperson, however, is optimistic of its achievements by the end of its initial tenure. "All Accord covered factories are required to complete remediation without further delay, so we expect the vast majority of Accord covered factories to be remediated by May 2018. Suppliers which show inadequate remediation progress will go through a process of notice and warning leading to termination of the business relationship with Accord signatory companies if these efforts do not succeed."

While the Bangladesh Accord is set to end in around six months' time, it has been granted a six-month extension to operate beyond May 2018 if a new national regulatory body is not ready to take over its work – as is widely anticipated. The so-called 'Transition Accord' will then be reviewed every six months until the conditions for handover have been met, followed by a further transition period of six months.

Accord clarifies role in Bangladesh beyond 2018

To date, the new body has 49 signatories, including Primark, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Inditex – and covers almost 1,200 of the current factories. E. Leclerc is the latest to sign the new Accord this week.

Clean Clothes Campaign, one the four witness signatories, this week urged more brands to sign up as part of the international human rights obligations within their supply chains.

"It is still uncertain how long this transition will take,' says Ben Vanpeperstraete, lobby and advocacy coordinator at Clean Clothes Campaign. "It is clear there is still a lot of work to develop local mechanisms in line with the agreed upon conditions and to ascertain these are able to ensure safe working conditions for the country's four million garment workers. As witness signatory, we are committed to supporting the Transition Accord and a well-prepared, smooth transition during the course of the coming years."

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which mainly represents North American brands and retailers, will leave Bangladesh after the end of the tenure on 31 May 2018. In its fourth annual report this week it said it is confident that by next summer the vast majority of the factories it has been monitoring are going to be in "very good shape". The body is also in talks to create a new safety organisation in Bangladesh to enure factories continue to meet agreed safety standards.

Bangladesh Alliance in talks over new safety organisation