Govt fails to begin RMG factory inspectionMoinul Haque
The government fails to begin apparel factory inspection that was scheduled to start today as it has yet to obtain the approval of the Economic Relations Division to use the fund arranged by the International Labour Organisation and as no common standards for the inspection could be worked out till Saturday.
The inspection of structural integrity and fire safety of apparel factories is supposed to be conducted on a foreign funding of $24 million arranged by the ILO.
‘It will not be possible to begin the factory inspection on tomorrow as no common standards, the main instrument of the factory inspection, could be worked out,’ the labour secretary, Mikail Shipar, told New Age on Saturday.
An ERD approval is mandatory for using foreign fund and the ILO has already filed an application to the Economic Relations Division but no approval has as yet been obtained, he added.
The secretary said that two consortiums of North American and EU retail brands over the safety issue in the apparel sector in Bangladesh, Alliance and Accord, were yet to submit the lists of the supplying factories and the checklist for the inspection, causing delay in the framing of the common standards for inspection.
‘I think that it is be possible to begin the factory inspection in 15 days,’ he said.
Earlier on September 7, the labour secretary urged Alliance and Accord to provide the lists of the factories at the earliest and said that the government would start the inspection on September 15.
At a meeting on September 7, the North American and European buyers agreed to work under a common standard for the inspection of structural integrity and fire safety of the apparel factories to avoid duplication and other complexities.
ILO country director Srinivas Reddy said that they sought an approval of the ERD for its project, Garments Sector Working Conditions Improvement Project, about 10 days ago and was expecting the approval soon.
The inspection may now begin in the last week of September, he said adding that now they were waiting for the completion of ‘the manual on common building standards.’
A Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association leader said that the government and the International Labour Organisation would inspect the apparel factories and that would be beyond the inspection by Alliance and Accord.
The association has already provided the government with a full list of apparel factories but Alliance and Accord are yet to provide their lists, the leader said.
EU buyers and labour rights groups formed the EU Accord on Fire and Building Safety in May after the Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24 that killed more than 1,100 people but major US retailers refused to join the team and formed North American Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative.
In a fire in Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia that took place on November 24, 2012, 112 workers were killed.
The two platforms announced that they would inspect about 1,750 factories that supply products for them.
The government has decided to inspect the rest of the factories in the country, about 2,000 units, with the assistance of the ILO and 30 expert teams of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.
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