The Bangladesh Alliance says it will not go on beyond mid-2018

The Bangladesh Alliance says it will not go on beyond mid-2018

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety says it is confident it can achieve its goal of establishing effective factory safety and worker power initiatives by 2018, at which point the group says it will not extend its tenure.

The platform of North America-based global apparel brands and retailers informed the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) of its decision on 16 August. The disclosure comes just months after the Bangladesh Accord extended its platform for a further three years.

Bangladesh '2018 Accord' promises new worker protections

A spokesperson for the Alliance, which was set up as a five-year initiative, told just-style Corrective Action Plan (CAP) closures are proceeding at a strong pace, and that it is on schedule to close out nearly all CAPs on which the Alliance has taken the lead by next summer.

"In addition, we have provided 1.3m workers with safety training and set up an extremely effective 24-hour helpline. By next year, our primary goal will be to help establish the systems to enable our factory safety achievements and worker empowerment initiatives to be sustained well beyond our departure. We are working hard with key partners to ensure we achieve that goal."

Both the Accord and the Alliance were set up in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers, and are both due to expire mid-2018.

Primark, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Inditex, Adidas, PVH Corp and N Brown Group are among over 20 brands and unions to have signed up to the new and improved Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety that will run to 2021 and promises to offer new worker protections and ensure more factories are inspected and renovated.

Signatories to the new Accord say they will continue the first platform's ground-breaking legally binding framework and commitment to transparency when it expires, but say it now adds new worker protections and ensures more factories will be inspected and renovated, as signatory brands add suppliers.

It is understood BGMEA members opposed the extension of the Accord, saying no foreign initiative can extend its activities in a sovereign nation without government approval.

The apparel trade body is now thought to have initiated a move to form a separate platform – 'Shomman' ('honour' in Bengali) – that will be administered by the Prime Minister's Office to look into the post-2018 safety activities in the country's ready-made garment sector, according to local reports.

In its last update, the Accord said engineers had carried out fire, electrical, and structural safety inspections at more than 1,800 factories, with 79% of workplace dangers identified in the Accord's original round of inspections now remediated.

While in an update earlier this month, the Alliance said the number factories that have completed all material components outlined in their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) is now at 118. Around 157 factories have been suspended.