Accord launches financial support programme for factories

May 09, 2017 - Bangladesh

Entering the final year of the current agreement, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has launched a direct financial support programme to help factories complete remediation. A major focus of Accord in its final year will be to establish the Safety Committee and Safety Training programme at as many factories as possible.

Accord will also effectively address safety complaints filed at factory Safety Committees or through the Accord safety complaints mechanism. Apparel brands and retailers and unions are also in discussions on how to best ensure that safety regulations and safety rights in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh are adequately upheld and further developed.

In May 2013, the Accord set out to develop a safety programme to make RMG factories in Bangladesh safe. The legally binding agreement has been signed by more than 220 global garment brands and retailers and 2 global unions and their national RMG affiliates.

More than 1,800 factories have received an initial fire, electrical and structural safety inspection where over 100,000 safety hazards were identified. The Accord has worked tirelessly with the factory owners and its company and labour signatories to remediate these safety hazards and empower workers to address safety concerns through factory level Safety Committees and an independent safety complaints mechanism.

"The unprecedented model of independent inspections, collective brand leverage, public disclosure, accountability and bi-partite governance has proven to be successful. The achievements are laudable with 65 fully remediated factories and more than 400 factories which have completed more than 90 per cent of required safety remediation. We must remain vigilant to drive remediation to completion as we still see too many factories with major safety concerns unfixed," said Rob Wayss, executive director and acting chief safety inspector of the Accord.

As the Accord enters the 5th year, the signatory companies are committed to support the factories they source from in their remediation. The Accord is launching a direct financial support programme for covered factories that have no current business relationships with Accord signatory companies.

"We need to ensure that major and costly safety measures, such as protected fire exits, fire alarm and fire protection systems and structural retrofitting work can and will be remediated urgently. The Accord Remediation Fund will provide qualified suppliers with access to direct funding for 50 per cent of remaining remediation costs for covered factories with no current Accord business. This direct support is limited and will be implemented on a first come first serve basis," said Joris Oldenziel, head of public affairs at the Netherlands office of the Accord.

Four years on, remediation is close to completion at more than 400 Accord factories which have completed more than 90 per cent of the remediation. Close to 65 factories have completed all remediation from initial inspections. Over 300 joint labour-management Safety Committees are being trained and equipped to monitor factory safety on a day-to-day basis. The independent and credible Accord safety complaints mechanism has resolved more than 90 safety complaints from workers and their representatives. (KD)