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RMG Sustainability Council launches to sustain workplace safety

  • Published at 04:53 pm June 1st, 2020
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File photo: Workers sewing apparel products at a readymade garment factory Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

RSC urges all reopened RMG factories to keep the factory workers as safe as possible amid Covid-19 pandemic

The country's apparel manufacturers, global brands, and unions have formally launched RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), a national initiative, in Bangladesh to sustain workplace safety.

"Today [Monday] the functions of the Bangladesh offices of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh have transitioned to the RSC, a permanent national organization with equal representation from RMG manufacturers, global apparel companies, and trade unions representing garment workers," said a statement of BGMEA.

In mid-January this year, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the steering committee of the Accord finalized RSC's formation at a meeting in Dhaka.

On May 31, Accord, an initiative of European readymade garment (RMG) retailers, shut down its operations in Bangladesh and handed over the charges to RSC.

After the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, Accord embarked on their work in Bangladesh's RMG industry with the aim to improve factory safety standards.

The statement said that RMG manufacturers, global brands and retailers, global unions and their Bangladeshi affiliates established this unprecedented national initiative to carry forward the significant accomplishments made on workplace safety in Bangladesh.

Rubana Huq, BGMEA president and also the industry representative on the RSC Board of Directors, said: "The RSC is an unprecedented national initiative and through our collective efforts with the brands and trade unions we will make sure that Bangladesh remains one of the safest countries to source RMG products from."

As per the agreement among the stakeholders, the RSC will continue with factory inspections, remediation monitoring, safety training, and an independent safety and health complaints mechanism available to workers in RMG factories.

Roger Hubert, a brand representative on the RSC Board of Directors, said: "With the establishment of the RSC, brands can continue to honour their supply chain responsibilities that they have committed to through the Accord signed with the trade unions.

"The RSC will provide the assurance that workplace safety will continue to be addressed throughout our Bangladeshi RMG supply chain," he added.

The RSC also aspires to encompass industrial relations, skills development and environmental standards.

China Rahman, general secretary of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and trade unions representative on the RSC Board of Directors, said: "Together with our Bangladeshi trade union affiliates we will help ensure workers in RMG factories have safe workplaces and access to remedy to address safety concerns and exercise the right to safe workplaces. We will work to ensure that workers have trust in the newly established RSC."

RSC urges to keep the workers safe

According to latest data, over 1,200 Accord covered factories have completed more than 90% of the remediation of their Corrective Actions Plans (CAPs).

Through the work of the RSC, covered factories will be able to complete their CAPs and ensure that all outstanding safety issues are remediated and verified as correctly fixed, while the labour management safety committees in the factories are equipped and empowered to monitor and address workplace safety on a daily basis, said the statement.

The RMG industry is facing unprecedented times with the Covid-19 pandemic which has had a dramatic impact on the industry in Bangladesh. As the RSC embarks on its work, one of the first issues it will need to address is the safe resumption of the office and field based work of its mandate, it added.

The RSC also urged all reopened RMG factories to implement necessary measures to mitigate Covid-19 exposure and keep the factory workers as safe as possible.

The RSC is confident and hopeful that its unique structure and commitment to collaboration will further advance a safe, healthy, and sustainable RMG industry in Bangladesh which can serve as a model for the world.