NEW YORK – A group of 190 global investors representing over US$3 trillion in assets have written to the Bangladeshi urging it not to abandon the Bangladesh Accord until local agencies are fully capable of continuing its work to ensure the safety of the over 1,600 factories currently under its remit. The statement is in direct response to ongoing deliberations about the future of the Accord. The Government has stated that the Accord should only be allowed to continue operations under a set of restrictive constraints that include prohibiting Accord inspectors from identifying any new safety violations in the factories. We understand the Accord would not remain under such restrictions, and the stalemate has been ongoing since last November.
“The Accord is an excellent example of human rights due diligence that addresses systemic fire and safety concerns in the garment sector and safeguards the lives of workers,” said David Schilling of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility which led the group of investors. “While the expectation has always been that the Government would eventually assume this responsibility, it does not yet have the full capacity necessary to do this without the Accord’s help. For this reason, we are appealing to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed to exercise patience and to keep the Accord in place until such time as it can safely pass its mantle to the Bangladeshi government.”
“Over the past 5 years, the Accord has accomplished detailed, comprehensive inspections and remediation of issues that has made the garment sector safer for workers as a result,” said Rev. Seamus Finn, of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. “The Accord’s success sends a positive signal to investors that safety risks are being carefully and sustainably managed. However, more needs to be done and we urge Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, to signal strong support for the continuance of the Accord until the Government’s Remediation and Coordination Cell builds its capacity to guarantee the safety of workers in the garment sector.”
In their letter to the Prime Minister, the investors asked her to send a strong signal of support for allowing the Accord to continue to operate in Bangladesh without placing restrictions and also to provide sufficient time for a transition period to enable the development of the local government’s Remediation and Coordination Cell (RCC).
Said Faryda Lindeman of NN Investment Partners, headquartered in the Netherlands: “Investors have carefully followed the safety of garment factories in Bangladesh since the Rana Plaza building collapse of 2013. We are concerned that ending the work of the Accord would increase the risk for Accord signatory companies to continue to source from unsafe factories lacking a credible and effective regulatory system.”