The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) whose five-year-term draws to a close at the end of the year, has decided to look for a way to carry forward its inspections, safety monitoring, training and helpline services. This was announced by the Alliance in a note released today.
The board of directors of the currently 29 brands strong Alliance is meeting in Dhaka this week to discuss plans to form a successor safety monitoring organization (SMO). Transitioning to local partners in 2018 has been the plan since the inception of the Alliance and will include stakeholders in Bangladesh, including the BGMEA, the Bangladesh government and others who will carry forward the Alliance's inspections, monitoring, training and helpline once the Alliance’s term draws to a close at the end of the year.
“Alliance member brands are ready to partner with the Bangladesh government and the BGMEA to establish an independent, credible, locally led organisation that will continue our important work,” said ambassador James Moriarty, the Alliance's executive director. “We have seen progress in our talks to date, and we are encouraged by momentum toward a collective agreement on a sustained safety effort.”
Since its founding in July 2013, the Alliance prides itself on a “sea change on safety” within Alliance-affiliated factories. According to the organisation, remediation across more than 600 factories is 90 percent complete and 1.4 million workers in nearly 1,000 factories have access to the 24-hour Alliance helpline. In addition, 1.5 million workers have been trained in fire safety and democratically elected Worker Safety Committees have been established in nearly 200 factories.
“Safe garment factories protect millions of workers, and they are critical to maintaining Bangladesh’s standing as a world leader in garment production,” said Moriarty. “We are confident that reaching a multi-stakeholder agreement is the best way to continue supporting the safety and well-being of RMG workers across Bangladesh.”
Maybe this would be the time to join efforts with the other active organisation of that sort in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Accord on Building and Fire Safety, whose 2018 edition has already managed to garner close to 140 signatories, among them the Who is Who of garment brands and retailers like H&M, Inditex, Takko, Kik, Alid, Lidl, Primark, Otto Group, Marks & Spencer, Fast Retailing, C&A, PVH and others.
It seems like a wasted effort to hold on to the idea of a separate organisation for North American brands and retailers, especially when their regional subsidiaries like Kmart Australia and Target Australia, for example, have already joined the Accord. Many US brands like O'Neill, Fruit of the Loom, Cherokee, American Eagle Outfitters and others too, by the way. After all, the goals are the same - to make garment production in Bangladesh safer and more transparent.
“We firmly believe that for our gains to be sustained over the long-term, these efforts must be owned and led locally from within Bangladesh. The government and other parties must commit themselves to making safety the rule, not the exception. While we certainly share a common goal with the Accord to increase safety and transparency in Bangladesh, it is precisely because we have achieved our stated commitments on time— nearly 90 percent of our factory remediation is complete—that we are transitioning this year”, commented the Alliance in an email to FashionUnited.
Photo: Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety website