The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has initiated to set up Readymade Sustainability Council (RSC) to ensure workers’ safety.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to ensure compliance with industry standards will be replaced by the RSC and the representatives of brands and workers’ associations.
The Accord was set up by European brands in response to the garment factory collapse in 2013 that killed over 1,100 workers. The pact was in place to improve factory safety, and was due to expire in May 2018 at the end of a five-year period.
After the Accord attempted to extend its authority to operate, factory owners and the Government set up their own committee to counter these attempts and end the pact altogether.
“We could reach an agreement after 2 days of detailed discussions among us where almost all the representatives of fashion brands attended,” said Dr. Rubana Huq, President of BGMEA. She added, “We have come together in good faith for a smooth transition from Accord to RSC and from now our formal journey has started.”
The rise of Bangladesh to becoming the second largest garment producer is banked upon the low wages. There are over 4 million workers employed in 4,000 factories, hence the RSC is an initiative to ensure better policies and sustainable solutions for workplace safety by uniting the brands and unions.
Readymade garments are a main source of income for the economy, contributing almost 16 per cent of GDP and about US $ 34 billion worth of exports in the last fiscal year ending in June 2019.
Bangladesh is among the world’s largest exporters of apparels sold by Western companies like H&M, Adidas and Walmart, but the industry has been plagued by fires and explosions that have killed hundreds in recent years.