SC allows Accord to stay for 281 days from May 8
Published : Monday, 20 May, 2019 at 12:00 AM Count : 852
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Sunday ruled that Accord, an association of European brands which have been inspecting the garments factories following the Rana Plaza tragedy, can operate in Bangladesh for 281 days from May 8.
A four-member bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order after disposing of an appeal filed by Accord challenging a High Court (HC) verdict that directed Accord to stop its activities in Bangladesh after November 30 last.
The apex court's ruling came on the basis of a new a memorandum of understanding, which was signed between Accord and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in this regard on May 8. The BGMEA will form a cell in the Accord and they will jointly inspect and ensure safety and security of garments factories and workers in Bangladesh, the apex court said.
The SC also ruled that the Accord will leave the country after 281 days from the date of signing of the MoU between Accord and BGMEA, said Barrister Imtiaz Mainul Islam, the lawyer for BGMEA, told journalists.
After signing the MoU with Accord, BGMEA officials said that the deal would establish the route to self-monitoring by Bangladeshi manufacturers.
Accord conducts inspection and remediation activities for more than 200 global clothing retailers and brands.
Bangladesh is the world's second biggest garment maker after China and the country's factory owners had been lobbying for the Accord monitors to leave, arguing that the programme's five-year mandate had expired.
The Accord has played a big role in pushing through safety upgrades since the collapse of the Rana Plaza warren of factories in 2013.
Additional Attorney General Sohrab Reza appeared for the government, while Advocate Salah Uddin Ahmed stood for the Accord.
Christie Miedema, a spokesperson from the Amsterdam-based Clean Clothes Campaign, said the group was studying the deal to understand its consequences, reports AFP
But local union leader Babul Akhter said the deal gives wider powers to factory owners and was a threat to worker safety. "It will have bad consequences," he told the news agency.
Under intense pressure after the 2013 disaster, leading international brands set up two safety watchdogs to monitor more than 4,500 factories that make clothes for Western stores.
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which represented mainly US brands, has already closed while the Accord had asked for more time to enforce safety measures in the factories under review.
The textile companies fear monitors could start looking into other worker rights issues in an industry where minimum wages start at US$95 a month, critics say.