Europe retailers agree to join US buyers under unified action plan

July 31, 2013

Bangladesh Garment Safety
Europe retailers agree to join US buyers under unified action plan
European retailers on Tuesday agreed to work together with North American buyers to ensure safe and sustainable garment industry in Bangladesh under a unified code of conduct for garment units.
The visiting delegation of EU Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a joint action plan of 84 EU retailers that stipulates inspection of all of their factory suppliers in Bangladesh to ensure they comply with safety standards, gave the assurance with leaders of Bangladesh garment industry at a meeting at BGMEA building in the capital.
The garment leaders requested the delegation, which came to Bangladesh to chalk out a plan of action for factory safety, to work together with US retailers under a unified code of conduct incorporating  recommendations of all retailers and the country’s National Action Plan.
The EU retailers formed the Accord after the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers at Savar but the US retailers refused to join hands with EU buyers and formed an alliance of 17 retailers of US and Canada with separate plan of action for garment industry safety.
After the meeting with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Employers Federation Accord member Roy Ramesh Chandra said, ‘We will try to ensure unified code of conduct with the North American Alliance or any other initiatives may come and also with the National Action Plan. But that needs to be ensured through discussion’.
Ramesh, who is also general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, said they would remain engaged for long term for a responsible, sustainable business and would work together to make sure that the garment industry was safe for workers and safe for working.
He also said they would encourage creative and constructive trade union that would ensure mature, and industrial relationship and also increase productivity.
He also reiterated the Accord commitment to work together including the industry people, government, brands and workers for the betterment of the industry.
‘We want input from the Bangladesh government, experts and the factory owners. There are a lot of technical, legal and logistical issues to discuss,’ said Ramesh.
A full list of factories to be inspected under the Accord has not yet been released as more and more brands are joining the deal, Ramesh said.
The meeting was participated by Philip Chamberlain of C&A, Aleix Gonzalez of Inditex, Christy Hoffman of UNI and Monika Kemperle of IndustriALL while Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Atiqul Islam and its former president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association  first vice-president Md Hatem, Bangladesh Employers Federation president Fazlul Hoque and Exporters Association of Bangladesh president Abdus Salam Murshedy, among others, were present at the meeting held.
The discussion was long but constructive, Philip said. ‘There is one common purpose of the meeting which is a sustainable garment industry here in Bangladesh for a long time,’ he added.
Replying to a question over the inclusion of BGMEA/BKMEA representation in the steering committee,
he said the issue was discussed and we agreed in principle. ‘But the important thing is how we see the agreement and how we place it,’ he said.
Monika said, ‘We are here as a group for the Accord and it is a very important to discuss with the BGMEA, BKMEA as they discussed how to include them.’
It was a starting to make the Bangladesh garment industry safe and healthy, she said adding they discussed the issues to bring solutions for the garment industry and it could be examples for others.
The BGMEA president said they had discussed the inclusion of Bangladesh representation including the government in the steering committee, unified code of conduct through the NAP and fair pricing.
A crisis might arise at the time of inspection of garment units, repair or renovation of some of the risky units, which might result in shutdown of a factory, he said, adding it would be easy to find out a solution if there was direct participation of the Bangladesh side.
‘They have agreed to look into the discussed issues,’ he added.
Atiqul said he had talked to North American alliance on Monday and they agreed to work with the EU retailers.
The EU retailers and apparel brands announced its plan on July 8 that they would inspect within nine months all Bangladeshi garment factories that supply the retailers and brands.
They said that initial inspections at every factory would be completed within nine months, and plans for renovations and repairs put in place where necessary.
Seventeen North American retailers, including Walmart and Gap, on July 10 announced another plan of action for Bangladesh worker safety initiative undertaking a five-year plan, which sets aggressive timelines and accountability for inspections, training and worker empowerment.

-With New Age input

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