For immediate release: December 9, 2013
Bangladesh team well-positioned to deliver on commitments to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh garment factories.
DHAKA—The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety officially launched its local operation in Dhaka today, ensuring an on-the-ground presence to facilitate its effort to bring improved fire and structural safety to Bangladesh garment factories. The Alliance—an historic coalition of global apparel companies and their partners—will unify efforts to dramatically improve garment factory safety conditions in Bangladesh following a string of deadly factory fires and collapses.
Upon its formation in July, the Alliance created the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative—a binding, five-year plan that sets aggressive timelines and accountability for inspections, training and worker empowerment. Alliance leadership highlighted early achievements toward its specific, five-year action plan for progress, including:
- Monthly supplier disclosure, including release of database of686Alliance factories;
- Establishment of a harmonized set of fire and building safety standards;
- Initial development of worker and management safety curriculum and training that will be required in 100% of Alliance factories by July 2014;
- Committee of Experts confirmed and starting an equivalency process on a common set of fire and building safety standards against already-completed factory inspections by Alliance members; and
- Opening of the Dhaka office and hiring of 15 local staff to lead on-the-ground implementation.
“Never before has the international spotlight been more focused on this critical threat to the health and safety of our nation’s vital garment manufacturing workforce,” said Muhammad Rumee Ali, Advisor, BRAC. “Now is the time for us to unite efforts across business, government, and civil society to create a new, sustainable standard for worker safety throughout Bangladesh.”
Members of the Alliance are providing the funding necessary over the five-year period—currently at $50 million and growing—to support the specific programs of the initiative, with some companies offering an additional combined total of over $100 million in affordable access to capital to assist factory owners they work with in Bangladesh for factory safety improvements.
“Our work requires the involvement of international business, government and civil society leaders—but our goal is to impact the lives of millions of factory workers right here in Bangladesh,” said Mesbah Rabin, managing director of the Alliance’s Dhaka office. “We look forward to convening the resources, expertise, and real commitment of the many partners that will be critical to achieving lasting impact.”
“The garment factory tragedies of the past year have resulted in tragic losses of human life,” said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and a member of the Alliance’s Board of Directors. “The BGMEA is proud to stand with the Alliance as we identify and implement solutions that will prevent these tragedies from happening in the future.”