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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Friday, November 30, 2012

BGMEA wakes up, but slowly

Garment owners promise to bear expenses of fire victims' families for 10 years

It took four days for the trade body of garment makers to take a mere decision to form a taskforce that will give the factory owners a deadline to upgrade their fire safety measures.

The BGMEA still does not know when the taskforce will be formed and when the factory owners will be given the deadline.

The BGMEA came up with a promise never heard of: If the owners do not meet the deadline, the taskforce will close their factories.

The announcement came from Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, after the fire killed more than 100 workers at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia on November 24.

“We want to take lesson from the tragic death in Ashulia. We want to rectify us,” Mohiuddin said after an Extraordinary General Meeting of the trade body at its office in Dhaka.

All factories, whether they are BGMEA members or not, will come under the purview, he said.

The trade body will also introduce 'service books' for the workers and keep their track records, Mohiuddin said.

The BGMEA chief also said the owners will introduce the fingerprint-based biometric identification system for the workers.

At the hurriedly-called meeting, around 70 garment exporters showed interest to bear the expenses of the families of the fire victims for the next 10 years.

Former BGMEA president Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez said the entire garment sector cannot suffer for the misdeeds committed by one or two factories.

Anwar A Chowdhury, chairman of AJ Group, a garment manufacturer, urged the owners to spend more time with their mid-level management.

He also called upon the owners to keep their factory gates open so that workers can manage to escape in case of any accident.

Atiqul Islam, a director of the BGMEA, said the garment makers follow the compliance issues only when the international buyers push for those.

He also called for forming a disaster management fund for the workers.

BGMEA Vice-president Siddiqur Rahman said: “Our buyers will be shaky if we do not correct us.”

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A very simple method would be to formulate SOP for fire and safety for all factories. Sit down with certified architects, fire safety officials, and relevant building permit authorities ASAP. There are factories in Bangladesh who have very good fire safety protocols already established--talk to them and us their best practices in formulating the SOP. Break it down by segments: 1) Building design, 2) Fire retardant materials, 3) firefighting equipment, 4) firefighting training & Drills, etc. etc. The first thing would be to install fire & Smoke detecting alarms and sensors and a procedure to take the people out in case of fire. You have to have drills in order to have a proper evacuation. The smoke sensors are cheap and operate on batteries. Then you implement all other safety features. Going forward, any new building must be 100% compliant with new codes. This is not rocket science and can be implemented within months which may safe hundreds of lives.

: rch

The image of BGMEA has been tarnished. Repair it with the following steps: 1. Increase the minimum wage 2. Establish strong protocols for safety procedures 3. Come up with a labour code enforcement mechanism 4. Publicize a routine phone number where workers can air grievances with the expectation that they will be followed up. 5. Inform all buyers of these procedures. 6. Expel any member unable or unwilling to follow these through verification audits and notify buyers that they have been expelled to prevent them from securing business. The public has lost faith in BGMEA. The burden is on them to regain it.

: Rafat Sadiq


  • niloufar sarker
    Friday, November 30, 2012 09:46 AM GMT+06:00 (166 weeks ago)

    It's better late then never, It is a welcome news that BGMEA will form a taskforce to see that all factories are in compliance with the regulations regarding fire safety. All owners should be made aware that it is a criminal offence to expose their workers to fire hazards. It is good that a disaster fund will be created but that should be over and above what the factories involved pays as compensation. I think BGMEA should also set the rate of compensation by the offending factories.

  • Concerned citizen
    Friday, November 30, 2012 12:51 PM GMT+06:00 (166 weeks ago)

    Why this delay; surprising, after all its only poor people affected, are we suddenly all ignorant of the 'real' status of the poor in the country: the poor exist only as tools for the rich to make money off.





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