Monthly Update March 2015

Bangladesh Accord newsletter for signatories, factories and other parties interested in the Accord’s factory safety programme.

Inspections
Initial inspections new factories: The Accord is conducting initial inspections at newly listed factories and has completed more than 250 inspections for fire, electrical and structural safety. Factories are only inspected by the Accord if listed by an Accord signatory company.

Total factories inspected: More than 1250 factories have now been inspected by the Accord. Furthermore, the Accord is liaising with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety to avoid duplication of inspection of common factories and will soon begin discussions with factories and companies to finalise Corrective Action Plans and begin follow up inspections.

Follow-up inspections: The Accord is continuing follow-up factory visits to monitor and verify corrective actions. 227 factories have had fire, electrical and structural follow-up inspections and their CAPs are being updated on the Accord Inspection Reports & CAPs page. Another 263 structural inspections have been conducted in factories with major structural concerns.

Remediation
The Accord has received 900 CAPs developed by factories with support from signatory companies and has posted over 500 online. CAPs will now be published online when the Accord Chief Safety Inspector (CSI) and his team of engineers have technically approved them. These CAPs will later be updated to indicate the financial plan for remediation is in place when the Accord receives this confirmation from the lead brand and factory.

We continue to develop our online Resource Centre. Please check the newly posted Electrical Single Line Diagram Guidance.

The Accord has developed a new Financing Remediation Guidance for signatory companies and factories outlining suggested steps for both parties to ensure remediation is financially feasible.

Worker Participation
Training for Accord trainers: The Accord has recently contracted an international consultant with experience in Occupational Health and Safety training, workplace education on compliance and labour relations, grievance handling and worker representative elections. The consultant was in Dhaka for two weeks working with and training the Accord training team to support development of training materials and guidelines for establishing OSH Committees. The above consultant and training team work focused on the implementation of the OSH Committee pilot programme.

OSH Committee Pilot Programme: The Accord has approached the Alliance to submit a joint letter to the Labour Secretary on the importance of the Government issuing the labour law implementation rules on OSH Committees and to formally inform the Secretary of our respective pilot programmes which are under development. The joint letter will be delivered to the Secretary on 12 March 2015.

The Accord Secretariat will soon be sending letters to the Company and Labour partners requesting “nominees” for factories which can be approached to participate in the pilot. The pilot will include both factories with and without registered trade union.

Complaints Mechanism
No additional OSH complaints were received since our last newsletter. We regret to report that in one safety complaint the factory owner has informed the lead brand and Accord that he will close his factory. In this case, reprisals were determined to have taken place and the Accord had been working on the reinstatement of the complainant workers. A formal communication on this case will be published by the Accord when the details of the closing and remaining outstanding items from the complaint resolution are finalized.

In one other previously submitted case after a prolonged refusal, the owner has decided to meet with the workers union to discuss the Accord CAP, factory remediation, and safety issues with the workers’ union at his factory. This occurred after an escalation letter was sent to the owner and involved brands to the owner indicating the factory would risk Accord Article 21 non-compliance being applied.

Accord remediation and complaint case handlers received practical training from the above-mentioned consultant on grievance investigation, conducting complaint meetings with the parties, and on obtaining and weighing information in cases where a consensus decisions is not achieved and a resolution is required.

Stakeholder Engagement
Throughout the month, the Accord has participated in several meetings held in the context of the ILO and National Tripartite Plan of Action to share systems and protocols developed by the Accord and discuss OSH Committees programme development, as part of the effort to develop the capacity of the Government of Bangladesh.

On 3rd and 4th February, the Accord consulted with the EU Ambassador in his preparations as Chair of the 3+5+1 Group. The Accord also participated in the full group meeting with the 3 Ministerial Secretaries. BLA rules and establishment of OSH Committees was a key agenda point of the full meeting.

On 7th February, the Accord participated in the Target Australia Regional Supplier Conference.

On 12th & 13th February, the Accord participated in a seminar on implementing the Bangladesh Accord and the role for European worker representatives organised by the European Trade Union Initiative (ETUI).

On 16th February, the Accord met with the visiting EU Commission on Human Rights Delegation to update them on the implementation of the Accord, accomplishments, and challenges. The Commission members expressed their strong support for our work.

On 25th February, the Accord met with an EU Trade and Human Rights delegation, Government of Bangladesh officials, and BGMEA.

On 5th March, the Accord presented at a meeting of the EU Domestic Advisory Group at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), within the framework of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Governance
The Accord Steering Committee minutes of 21st and 22nd January are now available online.
The Advisory Board meeting report of 27th January is now available online.

Publications
Quarterly Aggregate Report: this first update on remediation progress at RMG factories covered by the Accord is now available. The report provides key statistics as of November 30th 2014.

New Brochure introducing the Accord: please share this brochure with colleagues to explain how the Accord works.

Upcoming Events
Regional meetings for company signatories: Throughout this month the Accord team is running regional events with company signatories to share latest Accord implementation guidance, discuss remediation experiences and introduce plans to establish OSH Committees in Accord factories. Over 100 people have participated so far in meetings in Dhaka and Hong Kong and we look forward to meeting many more representatives of company signatories in Amsterdam, London, Copenhagen and Dusseldorf. A video conference with North American signatories will be held at the end of March.

10th & 11th March, Berlin: International G7 Stakeholder Conference, Promoting decent work worldwide through sustainable supply chains.

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