The tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building has shown that it is apparent that fire and building safety remains a major challenge in Bangladesh. BSCI believes that it is key that local stakeholders, notably government authorities, business, trade unions and NGOs need to cooperate closely on improving working conditions in the country. Therefore, the National Action Plan on Fire Safety plays an important role for improving the situation. BSCI welcomes that the accord on fire and building safety builds on the National Action Plan on Fire Safety which has been agreed by Bangladesh stakeholders in March this year. In this context, the recent high level mission of the ILO to Bangladesh plays equally an important role. BSCI supports the ILO’s request to the Bangladeshi government to increase their inspection capacities and review the labour law, which has been the outcome of that mission. It is essential that ILO addresses the political key players and follows-up on the implementation of the agreed measures.
An accord on taking measures for improving fire and building safety in Bangladesh has been proposed by the trade union federation IndustriALL on 13 May. So far, it has been signed by nearly 40 companies, among them several BSCI participants. BSCI welcomes this sector-wide collaborative approach, hoping that this accord will contribute to creating safe working conditions in the garment industry in Bangladesh. However, several issues related to the implementation of the accord still need further concretion. For this reason, BSCI is at the moment unable to make a recommendation to its participants whether to sign the accord. It therefore remains at the discretion of individual BSCI participants to sign the accord, as this is not a decision of the entire initiative BSCI. BSCI stands ready to contribute to the development of the implementation plan of the accord in the coming weeks. BSCI is currently considering setting up a working group with those BSCI participants having signed the accord in order to support this process.
The accord covers all suppliers producing for companies having signed and focuses on establishing credible safety inspections under the lead of an independent safety inspector. Remediation is another central piece of the accord in order to ensure that corrective measures at the factory level are taken. A training coordinator will establish an extensive fire and building safety training programme. The accord foresees that information on the five-year programme, notably an aggregated supplier list, inspection reports and aggregated industry compliance data, review of findings, remedial recommendations and information about progress is publicly shared. Signatory companies are expected to require their suppliers to join this programme and provide commercial incentives for long-lasting relationships. The financial support from signatory companies will be linked to sourcing volume from Bangladesh with a maximum contribution of USD 500.000 per year. It is the firm belief of BSCI that all these measures will help to make a real change in Bangladesh and that tragedies as seen in the past months should never happen again.