DHAKA – A decision on the future continuation of the Bangladesh Accord has been delayed – for a 6th time – to 18 February. The ruling was passed by a four-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by chief justice Syed Mahmud Hossain. The court has also fixed the date for further hearing of on a leave-to-appeal petition filed by the Bangladesh Accord for the same day.
Just recently, ICS (Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability) wrote a letter to the Bangladesh Prime Minister on behalf of a group of French brands and retailers, including luxury department store chain Galeries Lafayette Group, to make the case for an Accord extension in order to ensure its smooth handover.
We understand the Bangladesh government is continuing in its efforts to water down the Bangladesh Accord by attempting to impose restrictive constraints that strip it of its independence. Among government conditions are that the Accord decisions would be subject to the approval of a government committee, while another condition prohibits Accord inspectors from identifying any new safety violations, effectively requiring them to ignore hazards found during their inspections, such as faulty alarm systems, blocked fire exits, and cracks in structural columns. Another condition prevents the Accord from taking any action against factory owners who threaten or fire workers for raising safety complaints.
It seems highly improbable the Accord would remain in Bangladesh if stripped of its independence in this way, hence the current stalemate.
The Accord has committed to handing over its functions to a suitable national regulatory body, however, it is claimed the government’s Remediation and Coordination Cell (RCC) is still in an early stage of development and is not yet ready to perform the inspection tasks of the Accord.