Western buyers are ready to place more work orders in Bangladesh because of the vast improvements in workplace safety in the country’s garment sector, said a top executive of an American apparel brand.
Over the last five years, Bangladesh’s garment factories have become one of the safest places in the world for workers, said Sean Cady, vice-president of global supply chain & responsible sourcing of VF Corporation, which has brands like Wrangler, Lee, Kipling, Timberland, among others.
“If you look at our sourcing in Bangladesh, today we source from less number of factories than five years ago. But, our sourcing volume has increased,” he said at a press conference of the Alliance, the North American retailers’ platform formed to improve factory safety in the country.
Bangladesh’s export figures corroborate the claim, he said.
“That means business is coming to better factories because of the work of the Alliance, the Accord and the international action plan.”
Brand Bangladesh has a strong reputation, he added.
“Through the efforts of the Alliance, the Accord and the factory owners, you have changed from being one of the most dangerous garment manufacturing industries in the world into one of the safest,” said Jim Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance.
“That’s the transformation and everybody in this room and everybody in the country should be very proud of it.”
There is no possibility of industrial accident in the factories that have the affiliation with the Accord and the Alliance, Moriarty said. Subsequently, he urged the national initiative to expedite the remediation works in the garment factories the platform is in charge of as those are lagging behind the Accord- and Alliance-affiliated factories.
Moriarty said he has been talking with the government and the factory owners for strengthening the safety monitoring organisations at the factory level.
The Remediation Coordination Cell, which is assigned to look after the factory safety progress after the departure of Accord and Alliance, has a long way to go to enhance its capacity.
Following the instance of Bangladesh some other countries like Vietnam and India are also planning to introduce the activities like Alliance under the name of Life and Building Safety, he added. Alliance will depart from Bangladesh next year.
About the introduction of a helpline for garment workers, Tapan Chowdhury, a director of the Alliance, said the factory owners were of the belief that the channel might create trouble for the factories. “But that is not right.”
Thanks to the helpline the owners are able to listen to the workers’ real grievance. “It is a very healthy and a win-win situation,” he added.
Established by the Alliance in mid-2014 as an empowerment mechanism for workers in Alliance-affiliated factories, the helpline allows garment workers to report and resolve substantive issues in their factories, ranging from emergencies and urgent safety concerns to workplace abuse and wage compensation disputes.
Since its inception, more than 233,000 inbound calls from workers in over 1,000 factories have been received. To date, more than 80 percent of all substantive issues have been resolved, according to the Alliance.
“The Amader Kotha Helpline has become a valued asset for all parties,” said Doug Cahn, president of The Cahn Group and global project manager for the Helpline. As of yesterday, Amader Kotha is available to 1.5 million workers across more than 1,000 factories in Bangladesh.
Since 2014, the Helpline has received more than 233,000 calls from workers and the broader community, and more than 80 percent of all substantive issues have been resolved, Moriaty said.