Vacancy: Head of Workplace Programs

Introduction
The 2018 Transition Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (2018 Transition Accord) is a legally binding agreement between international trade unions IndustriALL and UNI Global, Bangladesh trade unions, and over 190 international brands and retailers (Companies). International NGOs, including the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Workers’ Rights Consortium, International Labour Rights Forum and Maquila Solidarity Network are witnesses to the agreement. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) acts as the independent chair. The Accord is an independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces.

Terms of Reference
In June 2018, the 2018 Transition Accord Steering Committee endorsed the 4-component workplace program of the 2013 Accord and integrated new provisions related to protection of freedom of association (FoA) rights related to advancing safety in Accord covered supplier factories.

The 4 components of the workplace program of the Accord are:
• The right to refuse dangerous work.
• Joint occupational safety and health (OSH) committees.
• OSH complaint mechanism.
• Comprehensive training program.

With the introduction of FoA protections related to advancing safety, complaints of alleged violations of these protections at Accord covered factories will be reviewed and as applicable, processed under the Accord OSH complaints mechanism procedures. A training session with factory safety committee members and an informational session on these FoA related to safety protections will be included in the Accord comprehensive training program.
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Accord Statement on 4th High Level Meeting of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact

2018 Transition Accord Steering Committee Statement on 4th High Level Meeting of the Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labour Rights and Factory Safety in the RMG and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh (the Compact)
25 June 2018, Brussels, Belgium

 
Representatives from EU, US and Canadian governments, Member of European Parliament, ILO and Accord signatory brands and unions urge the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) to ensure the Accord operations in Bangladesh continue until the GoB’s Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) is deemed ready by the multi-stakeholder Transition Monitoring Committee.
 
On 25 June 2018, the Compact partners (Government of Bangladesh, Government of Canada, Government of the US, the European Commission, and the International Labour Organization-ILO) met in Brussels to discuss progress made under the Compact and what remains to be done. This was the 4th time since the signing of the Compact in July 2013 that such assessment of progress took place*.

Unions, employers, manufacturers, apparel retailers, brands and civil society organizations were invited to attend the afternoon part of the Compact meeting which addressed inter alia the safety of the textile industry in Bangladesh.

The Compact partners acknowledged that some progress has been made since the last high level meeting held in Dhaka in May 2017. Progress on safety compliance was particularly noted. At the same time, it was widely acknowledged by different stakeholders and various representatives of the Compact partner governments that the Government of Bangladesh’ RCC is at its earliest stages of development, and that the Accord would need to continue its operations in Bangladesh until the RCC is deemed ready.
 
During the meeting the following position was taken by the brand representatives on behalf of more than 180 brands which have signed the 2018 Transition Accord.

It is in the crucial interest of the signatories to the Accord that the work of remediation which started in May 2013 is completed and a sustainable and adequate national regulatory structure is implemented by the Bangladesh Government to regulate workplace safety in the Bangladeshi garment industry. The premature shut down of the Accord; leaving workers in unsafe circumstances, would jeopardize the brands’ ability to source from a safe industry and may make them reconsider sourcing decisions and review the reputational risk of Bangladesh as a sourcing country.

In the last 5 years, the Accord has delivered a robust, high quality, transparent, inclusive system, and it has made substantial progress to achieve the safety of workers in Bangladesh’s most important export industry. But the work is not yet completed and the national structure, notwithstanding assertions to the contrary, is not yet prepared to credibly take over the work of the Accord.

A solution towards the 2018 Transition Accord (2018 TA) was achieved in October 2017 through meetings of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), the BGMEA, and brand and union signatory representatives of the 2018 TA. Through this solution, Accord operations would continue in Bangladesh beyond May 2018 and a Transition Monitoring Committee; with representatives of the GoB, BGMEA, Accord signatory brands and unions, and the ILO, would be established to assess the preparedness of the national remediation structure to sustainably take over the work of the Accord.

The Accord signatories and especially the brands called on the EU, US, Canada and the ILO to request from their Bangladesh partners in the Sustainability Compact to express the support of the GoB for the previously agreed arrangements to establish this Transition Monitoring Committee. Only when this assessment body deems the RCC ready to take over responsibilities for the safety of workers based on previously agreed objective criteria should the Accord wind down its activities.
 
The majority of the Compact Partners widely endorsed the position of the Accord brand representatives in their statements and interventions. In the 25 June 2018 Compact meeting, the GoB was urged by the other Compact members to utilize the expertise and support from the Accord as a key element of achieving institutional and practical preparedness of the official structure**.

The United States Ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Bloom Bernicat, urged the Government of Bangladesh to “maintain a collaborative approach to the Accord as it continues to assess when – not if – it can transition to a Bangladesh-led program. It is critical to the safety of millions of workers and the productivity of factories that that assessment should be made fairly and objectively, and without artificial time deadlines.

Amy McGann, Foreign Affairs Officer, United States Department of State, commented on the current preparedness of the RCC: “Currently there is no alternative to the Accord and Alliance. The Remediation Coordination Cell only began one year ago and is not fully-staffed yet. As we saw from the Alliance and the Accord, it takes years to develop a fully functional safety organization. It is not surprising that the RCC is not quite ready to take on the work.

The European Commission specifically requested the GoB to make a re-submission to the High Court (in the Suo Moto case against the GoB and the Accord) which explicitly expresses the Bangladesh Government support for the TMC arrangement.

All the [Bangladesh Sustainability] Compact partners mentioned that they welcome the Accord in the statement establishing the Compact; this is something we should continue. As the EU, we very much encourage the Government of Bangladesh to make a resubmission [to the High Court] to ensure that there is no end date for the work of the Accord, including beyond November 2018.“, stated a representative from the European Commission.
 
It was further positively received that the Accord committed to offer full support to the national efforts to install a robust national remediation structure. The GoB was called upon to take this offer and work with the 2018 Transition Accord to prepare the RCC to become competent to enforce workplace health and safety regulations and standards to the benefit of millions of workers in the RMG industry.

The Accord commits to the Bangladesh National Plan of Action and RCC partners and to the Compact partners to fully support the efforts to achieve RCC preparedness and the ultimate handover of Accord’s work to a fully functioning national safety regulatory body.

 
*http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2018/july/tradoc_157109.pdf
**A full recording of the meeting can be found here: https://webcast.ec.europa.eu/high-level-meeting-on-bangladesh-compact

 

Download this statement in PDF format here.

For more information, please contact:
Rob Wayss
Executive Director
rob.wayss@bangladeshaccord.com

  
www.bangladeshaccord.org
media@bangladeshaccord.com

Accord Announces Stephen Quinn as Chief Safety Inspector

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is pleased to announce the appointment of Stephen Quinn as Chief Safety Inspector (CSI). Stephen brings a wealth of applicable experience to the CSI post from his previous work with Lands Sterling in UAE and with various governmental building authorities in Scotland. His extensive work in building pathology, fire safety, structural analysis, and regulatory compliance is a strong match for the demands of the CSI position.

Stephen joins the Accord at an important time as we embark on the implementation of the 2018 Transition Accord. His focus in the CSI post will be to lead the Accord engineering team, to lead the completion of remediation at all Accord covered factories, to further develop adherence to safety standards in the RMG industry, and to support the technical capacity development of the National Plan of Action Remediation Coordination Cell.

Mr. Quinn will commence his assignment with the Accord on 10 June 2018 and will be based in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Accord Remediation Fund provides financial support to five RMG factories


Safety remediation at five Ready-Made Garment factories in Bangladesh will be completed with financial support made available through the Accord Inactive Factory Remediation Fund

 

15th May, 2018

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety today approved two additional applications from Accord-covered factories to receive financial support for remediation through the Accord Inactive Factory Remediation Fund, adding up to a total of five factories.
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Statement issued by the Steering Committee of the Accord 

The Steering Committee of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh issued the following statement:
 
Five years ago on 15 May 2013, a group of global brands and retailers and 2 global unions and their national trade union affiliates signed an unprecedented agreement to make garment factories in Bangladesh safe. Since then, the Accord was signed by 220 brands, retailers, importers and agents from all over the world including Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. These 220 brands and retailers, by signing the Accord, demonstrated their commitment to continue sourcing from Bangladesh and contributing to a safe and sustainable Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh.

The Accord recognizes the extraordinary progress that has been made over the last five years to improve fire and building safety in the Bangladeshi RMG industry. The overall progress rate of remediation at the 1620 Accord-covered factories is 85%. The Accord has engaged with 2.4 million worker participants to share vital safety information in more than 1,000 factories. As a result of these efforts, millions of workers now work in safer factories. Bangladesh’s garment factories also benefit materially, because buyers recognize that a factory that has completed its safety work presents far fewer risks for them.

Credit for these efforts is shared and includes the many factory owners who have cooperated with the Accord to undertake the necessary safety renovations. Crucial to the success of the Accord has been its unique features: the labor-corporate partnership that is at the heart of the agreement, the Accord’s recognition of the need to ensure that factory owners are able to afford the cost of safety improvements, and the binding nature of the agreement. The Accord continues to be a unique opportunity for factory management, workers and their trade unions, global brands and global unions to combine their forces and thus remedy the systemic problem of building and fire safety deficits that has plagued the Bangladeshi garment industry.

At the same time, we recognise that the remediation work has not been completed. Important steps still need to be taken to achieve full remediation and acceptable workplace safety. Life-threatening safety hazards such as inadequate fire exits, fire alarms and fire protection systems are still present in hundreds of factories, and the remediation rate remains at 85%.

Fire and building safety involves not just the renovations to make factories safe, but also ongoing vigilance to keep them safe. Rigorous and ongoing factory inspections are essential to maintaining that vigilance. As of today, there is not yet a fully resourced national regulatory body in place to take over this work. Therefore, the Accord signatories took the decision to sign the 2018 Transition Accord to ensure this vital safety work continues.

This week, the Government of Bangladesh confirmed it will extend the permission of the Accord to work beyond May 2018. A joint “Transition Monitoring Committee” (TMC) has been established by the Government for the purpose of determining when the agreed conditions for a handover of the Accord work to a fully-functional and competent national regulatory body have been met.

The TMC, which is comprised of Accord brands, global trade unions, BGMEA, ILO and the Bangladesh government, met on May 6, 2018 and determined that the criteria agreed by the Accord and the BGMEA and recognized by the Government of Bangladesh have not yet been met.

These criteria include: demonstrated proficiency in inspection capacity, remediation of hazards, enforcement of the law against non-compliant factories, full transparency of governance and remediation progress, and investigation and fair resolution of workers’ safety complaints.

The Accord is pleased that the BGMEA supports the start of the 2018 Transition Accord on the 1st of June and to continue until these criteria are met.

 

Download the statement in PDF format here.
For more information, please contact:

Joris Oldenziel

Deputy Director for Implementation

joris.oldenziel@bangladeshaccord.com
+31 614 95 44 30

Michael Bride

Deputy Director for Workplace Programs and Bangladesh Stakeholder Engagement

michael.bride@bangladeshaccord.com 

+880 170 964 1060 / +1 202 531 5669

www.bangladeshaccord.org
media@bangladeshaccord.com

April Quarterly Aggregate Report

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is committed to transparency and public accountability. As part of this commitment, the Accord publishes Quarterly Aggregate Reports showing the remediation progress across different safety issues identified at Accord-covered RMG factories in Bangladesh and the progress of the Accord’s workplace programs.

See here the April issue – Statistics as of April 1st, 2018

Advisory Board Meeting Report

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) held its thirteenth Advisory Board (AB) meeting on 23 January 2018 in Dhaka. Representatives from supplier factories, sourcing agents, the Ministry of Labour (DIFE), IndustriAll RMG trade union federations (IBC-RMG), BKMEA, Accord signatory brands, and Bangladesh NGOs/CSOs participated in the discussions. The ILO Skills 21 Project Chief Technical Advisor served as the neutral Chair of the meeting of the Accord Advisory Board.

You can download Advisory Board Meeting Report here

Remediation Progress Update

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh publishes report on progress as of 1 January 2018.

Safety remediation progress across 1,600 Accord covered RMG factories:
• 82% overall remediation progress
• 127 factories completed initial remediation
• >90% remediation at 699 factories

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Safety Committee Training Program Update

Dear all,

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is pleased to announce that the Safety Committee Training Program commenced at more than 840 Accord covered RMG factories. Functioning Safety Committees are key to ensuring that factories become – and stay – safe by conducting factory safety checks, responding to health and safety complaints, and getting information to workers on workplace safety.

Progress as of 1 December:
•844 factories participating in the Safety Committee Training Program
•805 All Employee Meetings, making for 1,820,771 worker contacts
•Safety Committee Training Curriculum completed at 169 factories

Highlights of the Safety Committee Training Program

Factory walk-throughs: enabling Safety Committee participation in inspections
Following their first Safety Monitoring training session, the factory Safety Committee together with the Accord trainer conduct a walk-through of the factory to identify actual or potential safety hazards, that are then reported to the Factory Management. Most of the issues found during these factory walk-throughs relate to inadequate use of machines, improper maintenance of fire and electrical equipment, obstacles on the work floor, or poor ventilation and lighting.

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Statement on Fire and Fatality at Plummy Fashions Ltd.

It is with great sadness that the Accord has learned that on 9 November 2017, a worker died after suffering extensive burns in a fire which occurred six days earlier at the Accord covered factory Plummy Fashions Ltd., located in North Norshingpur, Kashipur, Fatullah, Narayangonj.

The Accord expresses our deepest sympathies and condolences to the victim’s family. The Accord sent a fire engineer to the factory on 7 November to conduct a post-fire inspection.
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