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Accord, Alliance discord surfaces

  • Rezaul Hoque, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2014-08-19 22:01:16 BdST

European clothing brands’ association Accord has said it will not accept any inspection report prepared by a firm individually hired by a brand of the North American retailers’ group, Alliance.

It has made this clear in a statement on initial inspections at joint Accord-Alliance factories on Aug 15.

However, it will only consider inspection reports done by firms that are directly hired by Alliance.

The statement indicates a difference between the European clothing retailers’ association, Accord, and the North American brands’ group, Alliance, over accepting inspection reports on factories that produce garments for buyers from both groups.

BGMEA, the apex body of readymade garment traders, fears this will put over 300 factories, manufacturers for both European and North American brands, in trouble.

Despite Accord’s concern for avoiding duplication of inspection, its new stance could further put off workers’ safety in factories that cater to both.

It is important to note that Accord does not provide wages to workers temporarily laid-off because of factory remediation.

The statement says persons working under the guidance of Accord’s Chief Safety Inspector carried out Accord’s inspections.

On the other hand, Alliance carries out its inspection in two ways: through hired firms and firms hired by Alliance brands.

Accord made it clear that it would not accept inspection reports done by any individual Alliance brand.

Accord said it would accept inspection reports prepared by firms hired by Alliance as long as they met some of its criteria.

The first condition says Accord’s Chief Safety Engineer would endorse all corrective actions plan, in which the brands are obliged to provide funds to make the factories safer through renovation.

The second one says Accord programmes will be fully carried out, including follow up inspections, during the remediation process.

The third criterion says all Accord obligations will remain in full effect for its brands, including remediation financing, regardless of whether Alliance brands accept these obligations.

On Accord’s new stance, BGMEA President Md Atiqul Islam told bdnews24.com: “Accord’s latest stance about the inspection of joint factories will mean more trouble for more than 300 such factories.”

Alliance accepted inspection reports done by Accord-hired firms, he said.

“We are going to send an official letter to Accord urging the group to accept Alliance’s inspection reports. Otherwise, the differences over inspection will cost joint factories dearly in terms of money, time and effort.”

In the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse at Savar that killed over a thousand readymade garment factory workers, European clothing brands signed the five-year Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, better known as the Accord.

Likewise, North American brands formed Alliance to promote labour rights and workplace safety in Bangladesh garment factories that make clothes for them.

Accord inspected over 800 factories until June this year, whereas Alliance inspected 587 factories, including the joint factories.