Bangladeshi trade union leaders said that the end of an international arrangement aimed at ensuring the well-being of country’s garment workers is likely to undermine safety by making factory owners responsible for maintaining standards.
European fashion brands set up the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in order to improve factory safety in the country after a garment factory complex collapsed in 2013 killing more than 1,100 people. The Accord was to expire in May 2018 but a longer transition period was agreed.
Attempts by the Accord’s members to extend its authority to operate were challenged in court by some factory owners, while the government set up its own body to take over its work.
On Sunday, a court approved a plan to transfer the factory oversight team that works under the pact and its duties to a group led by the top garment manufacturer’s association. However, leaders of seven garment workers’ unions say they were not consulted on the arrangement.
“This deal is sure to compromise the safety and security of garment workers given there will be no independent decision-making by the Accord. This was framed without any discussion with labour unions,” said Babul Akter, President, Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation.
Unions will decide this week on the action they might take to protest against the arrangement.