The Accord on Fire and Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) and the National Initiative of Bangladesh Government have remediated more than 3,000 garment factories across the country over the last five years. The Accord is the guild of more than 180 retailers and importers from Europe, North America and Asia, including Primark in the UK, H&M in Sweden and the Italian group Benetton. The other one is the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety of 29 North American retailers, including major ones like Costco, Walmart and Sears. Besides, the government in Bangladesh has also improved environment in garment factories by introducing its own safety compliance regime as well, known as the National Initiative.

There are 5,271 garment factories in Bangladesh as of June this year, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Of the so far 1,690 are have been brought under the inspection of Accord, 745 under the Bangladesh Government’s National Initiative and 655 under the Alliance. Rest will be inspected under the National Initiative when Accord and Alliance leave the country expectedly in this month of January. Accord and Alliance took up the issues after the deadly collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar in April 2013. Five garment factory were in eight-storey Rana Plaza that collapsed killing more than 1,130 workers and maiming hundreds. One report published this year by New York University suggests there may be as many as 8,000 garment factories if you include sub-contractors operating outside the more formal factory sector.Safety measures in place: There have been significant improvements to factory safety since the internationally backed schemes began sending teams of experts – both local and international – to address fire, electrical and structural concerns. The Alliance says by November last 2018, of the factories that fall under its remit, 428 had completed all the necessary work. It says its members will work from 1 January 2019 with local partners to monitor safety standards and training.The Country Director of the ILO in Bangladesh, Toumo Poutiainen, told there had been “significant gains in safety.” However, the Accord remains more cautious about its progress. It has many more factories under its remit, and says it still needs more time to finish its work.

Its latest progress report states that just 187 factories had completed all the work identified after initial inspections, with a further 1,220 factories behind schedule in making improvements.And of a further 745 factories which fall under the Bangladesh Government’s initiative, only 218 had completed over half the safety improvements required by November this year. Bangladesh to oversee safety: Last year, the Government of Bangladesh announced the formation of the Remediation Co-ordination Cell (RCC), supported by the ILO, to carry on the work of improving safety once the international regimes end.