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AMSTERDAM – More than half of the 1,600 garment factories inspected by the Bangladesh Accord are yet to install adequate fire detection and prevention systems. Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) revealed the disturbing figures as it urged the Bangladesh government to support the Accord’s appeal to lift the restraining order which will see it ushered out of the country on November 30. Pressure is now growing from many quarters for the Bangladeshi government to reverse its decision, and we understand there will be a further announcement on this issue later this week.

Highlighting the impact of the Accord, the CCC pointed out that since starting work in 2013, Accord engineers found 97 per cent of the over 1,600 factories under its jurisdiction had no safe emergency exits and 91 per cent had no adequate fire detection or alarm system.

Five years later, 97 per cent of lockable or collapsible gates have been removed and in total 74 per cent of all found fire safety defects have been corrected, with another 12 per cent still pending verification, the CCC said.

“Bangladesh is moving fast towards a situation in which factories could quickly return to the death traps that they were in 2012,” the CCC said in a press note. “The announced forced closure of the Bangladesh Accord’s domestic office operations later this month threatens to undermine the positive developments of the last five years and to plunge the country back into a situation in which workers will have to fear for their lives when entering their workplace.”

Ineke Zeldenrust of Clean Clothes Campaign said: “The progress reached on fire safety by the Bangladesh Accord is under severe threat now that its Bangladesh office operations might be closed after November 30. This will impair the Accord’s ability to inspect and monitor factories in Bangladesh and violates previous agreements that Accord would remain fully operational until domestic institutions have the technical capacity and the political will to perform inspections and ensure remediation, she explained. The risk of new factory tragedies looms large, which is a reputational and legal risk for brands, but in which workers pay the largest price of all: their lives.”

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