UNDERSTANDING THE ALLIANCE AND THE ACCORD ON BANGLADESH WORKER SAFETY
Since April this year Oxfam has been asking Australian companies sourcing from Bangladesh to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord.
The Accord is a legally binding initiative that mandates independent safety inspections (involving trade unions and local groups), the right for workers to be able refuse dangerous work and obliges companies to help pay for necessary renovations and repairs.
We understand that The Just Group has joined the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. We welcome that The Just Group is taking worker safety in Bangladesh seriously, but we have some concerns about the Alliance and for this reason we are going to continue to call on The Just Group to also join the Accord.
Oxfam is concerned that the Alliance:
- Does not include a role in its governance and implementation for worker representatives. (This is critical to ensure that any agreement is really representing the needs and safety issues of workers)
- We understand that under the Alliance, brands and retailers are not obliged to contribute financially toward the renovation and repair of their factories in Bangladesh. We understand that companies are only obliged to pay administrative fees to cover a training program, overheads etc.
We understand the only assistance for renovations referenced in the Alliance documents is a voluntary loan program, “administered solely by the Member [i.e., the brand or retailer] who makes such funds available, on terms and conditions to be established solely by that Member.”
We are concerned that this does not ensure financial support for factories to make necessary repairs and renovations. We believe this financial support is needed for industry wide improvement in the garment industry in Bangladesh.
- We understand that under the Alliance, brands and retailers choose the auditors, pay the auditors, and control the inspections.
We do not consider this to be a cross-industry, independent approach to factory audits which is needed to provide whole-of-industry oversight on these important factory inspections.
- The Alliance does not mention of the right of workers to refuse dangerous work. This is important for the ability for workers to leave a workplace when they feel unsafe. The day before the Rana Plaza collapsed workers had seen large cracks in the walls. When they expressed fear about going back into the building they were threatened that they would lose their jobs. They went back to work and the building collapsed killing more than 1,100 men and women.
Because of the above concerns we are continuing to call on The Just Group to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord as a more sustainable and further reaching agreement.
Written by: Oxfam
DECEMBER 05, 2013