Retailers and unions agree on 3-month extension to Bangladesh staff’ security accord By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ladies work in a garment manufacturing unit, as factories reopened after the federal government has eased the restrictions amid considerations over the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Could 3, 2020. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
By Victoria Waldersee and Ruma Paul
LISBON/DHAKA (Reuters) – Retailers and unions negotiating over a legally binding staff’ security accord in Bangladesh resulting from expire on Monday reached a tentative deal to increase it by three months, unions concerned in discussions mentioned, supplied the round 200 signatory retailers agree on the extension.
The signatories – which embody prime attire retailers like Zara-owner Inditex (MC:) – have till June 10 to state whether or not they agree, a spokesperson for UNI International Union, one of many unions concerned, mentioned.
At the least 10 have given their consent, in line with UNI International Union, together with H&M, which confirmed it had agreed to the extension.
Inditex didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Unions mentioned they’ll pull out of the organisation now working the accord – referred to as the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC) – if retailers don’t decide to the legally binding portion of the settlement, obliging them to fund the accord’s operations and banning them from working with factories till they’re deemed secure by accord inspectors.
“And not using a legally binding settlement, no manufacturing unit is secure,” Babul Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Staff Federation, mentioned. “Bangladesh’s garment business will return to sq. one … we could have one other Rana Plaza,” Akter mentioned, referring to the deaths of a minimum of 1,100 within the collapse of garment manufacturing centre Rana Plaza in 2013.
However business representatives from manufacturing unit proprietor affiliation BGMEA, who type a 3rd of the RSC board, mentioned a very powerful factor was to strike an settlement that as many manufacturers as doable would be a part of.
“The business desires each model to signal on,” BGMEA director Rubana Huq mentioned. “That is our stance.”
RACE TO THE BOTTOM?
The Accord on Fireplace and Constructing Security in Bangladesh, signed in 2013 after the Rana Plaza catastrophe, created an unbiased physique to run inspections at factories and obliged retailers to sever enterprise ties with factories that didn’t perform repairs, offering emergency funds, low-interest loans or upfront funds the place crucial. Corporations may very well be tried in courtroom within the nation the place they’re domiciled in the event that they failed to satisfy their obligations.
Two retailers – which couldn’t be named beneath phrases of the settlement – have been taken to courtroom and compelled to pay massive sums, mentioned Alke Boessiger, deputy secretary-general of UNI International Union.
North American retailers together with Walmart (NYSE:), Goal (NYSE:) and Macy’s (NYSE:), reluctant to signal onto a deal that risked authorized instances at dwelling, created a parallel Alliance on Staff’ Security in Bangladesh legitimate for 5 years through which members held one another to account with out courtroom involvement.
Sources near the negotiations mentioned that the Model Affiliation, a authorized entity representing retailers within the RSC, needed to achieve an settlement that North American retailers would additionally signal onto.
However staff’ rights teams mentioned this might create a race to the underside.
“We wish the RSC to be the business initiative, however that does not imply we’re ready to decrease our requirements,” Boessiger mentioned.
A Model Affiliation consultant was not accessible for remark. The organisation mentioned in a press release on Sunday it was “open to any model sourcing from Bangladesh who’s dedicated to securing the continued excessive security requirements throughout the membership framework.”
UK retailer Asos and German retailer Tchibo have additionally publicly dedicated to signing an extension of the legally binding settlement, with others declining to remark earlier than the top of negotiations.
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