The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (the Accord) has taken note of Reuters’ article of June 24, 2014 titled “Insight – Inspection tensions add to Bangladesh garment industry’s woes.”
The Accord would like to correct two wholly inaccurate portrayals made in the article about the quality of the inspections and the obligation of Accord signatory brands to financially support remediation.
The Accord inspection teams consist of highly professional, internationally renowned engineers who perform their jobs very seriously. The Accord notes that Reuters was provided the opportunity to accompany an inspection visit and see how the inspection teams operate. The confirmed Reuters reporter declined to show up.
Recommendations to temporarily suspend production and evacuate an inspected factory building are not taken lightly, however the Accord is committed to ensure workers are out of unsafe buildings as soon as possible. If through a professional safety inspection the Chief Safety Inspector deems a factory to be structurally unsafe, an immediate effort must be made to evacuate the building in the interest of the safety of the workers. When credible information is presented that may change the initial assessment of the structural integrity of a building, the Accord Chief Safety Inspector has been willing to reconsider Accord’s recommendations.
|"The article also wrongly suggests that the Accord’s main requirement from signatory brands is to engage in a discussion only. As outlined above, the requirement is much more extensive."|
The suggestions made in the Reuters article that this process is “erratic” and the inspectors are “trigger-happy” in no way do justice to the thoughtful decision making by the Accord Chief Safety Inspector, who is constantly weighing the interest of the safety of the workers whilst recognizing the consequences of temporary suspension of production.
A second incorrect portrayal in the article is related to the obligation of Accord brands to ensure sufficient funds are available for remediation. This covers both the upgrades needed to comply with health & safety requirements (Article 22) as well as continuing wage payments during renovations (Article13).
Article 22 of the Accord spells out that the remediation support obligation can be met through negotiating commercial terms that make it financially feasible or through alternative measures (such as loans) that ensure the factory has the capacity to meet the requirements. The article also wrongly suggests that the Accord’s main requirement from signatory brands is to engage in a discussion only. As outlined above, the requirement is much more extensive.
The Accord will investigate the allegations made in the article regarding the perceived failure of its signatory companies to meet their obligations to financially support remediation. The Accord also continues to monitor implementation of the corrective action plans and all other commitments under the agreement.