Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

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Protecting and Empowering Bangladesh’s Garment Workers

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Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Progress Report
April 2016

Message from the Chair

In the past three years, the Alliance has achieved significant progress in its commitment to ensure the safety of workers in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment factories. Through initiatives centered on standards & inspections, training, remediation, worker empowerment and sustainability, we have demonstrated that lofty vision can indeed transform into observable reality...

Download the full report here

 

NFPA Assesses Alliance Remediation Efforts

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The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) today issued its Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment (RMG) Industry High-Level Assessment Report, an independent review of Alliance efforts to improve worker safety conducted in collaboration with the University of Maryland (UMD). The press release – which includes a link to the report - and a summary of NFPA recommendations to the Alliance with the Alliance’s resulting activities can be found below:

Press Release: English / Bangla
NFPA Recommendations Summary: English / Bangla

Alliance Statement on the Pretty Sweaters Factory Fire

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In the early morning hours of February 23, 2016, a fire broke out in the Pretty Sweaters Ltd factory in Gazipur. The fire, for which the cause is yet to be determined, broke out in the southwest corner of the 7th floor, where it was successfully contained. While there were 100 workers on site at the time of the fire, no fatalities or injuries resulted from the fire.

This factory had been inspected by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) and was actively undergoing remediation. The factory’s sprinkler system required repair in order to meet the international standard set by the Alliance and the Accord, but the factory had not yet completed the repair at the time of the fire. The faulty sprinklers allowed the fire to spread farther than it would have had a fully functional and complaint system been in place. Fire doors and hydrants, which had undergone required repairs, were instrumental in containing the fire to the 7th floor and enabling factory staff and Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD) personnel to extinguish the fire. While the 7th floor remains closed, the factory did not sustain significant structural or electrical damage, and production in the rest of the factory has resumed.

This incident underscores the importance of the work of the Alliance, the Accord and the Government of Bangladesh to remediate factories to meet international safety standards, to push factories that are moving slowly to accelerate their remediation progress, and to ensure that workers are empowered with the safety training they need to respond in an emergency.

 

Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Statement on the February 2 Fire at Matrix Sweater Ltd.

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A fire occurred in the early morning hours of February 2, 2016 in the Matrix Sweater Ltd. factory in Gazipur, which sources garments for members of both the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord).

While there were no casualties and only minor injuries in the fire, this incident underscores the importance of our ongoing work to remediate factories to meet international safety standards, and to push factories that are moving slowly to accelerate their remediation progress.

The Alliance conducted the first inspection of the Matrix Sweater factory in 2014 and recommended several essential safety improvements. In June 2015, a remediation verification visit indicated that Matrix had completed 25 percent of its required repairs, with an additional 62 percent of repairs in progress. Yet to be completed was the installation of fire doors, automatic sprinklers and fire detection systems, which allowed the fire to spread. The Alliance is currently conducting a follow-up inspection to gauge additional progress.

As we have seen from the dramatic decline in serious fire incidents since the launch of international safety initiatives including the Alliance, a reduction in fire risk, injury and death has resulted from our efforts—yet there remain hazards still to be addressed under the remediation program. These hazards are further complicated by infrastructure issues in Bangladesh, such as a lack of access to water supply and overcrowding of buildings, which complicate efforts to extinguish fires when they occur—further underscoring the need for our work

The mission of the Alliance is to ensure that factories from which our Members source meet strict inspection standards and provide a safe working environment free of structural, electrical and fire-related hazards. All of these factories have been inspected, their 1.1 million workers provided with Alliance fire safety training, and all are now undergoing remediation to ensure they meet the highest standards of safety—progress that is saving lives. The Alliance and its 27 member companies have formally severed ties with 26 factories that have failed to comply with these standards.

While much progress is being made in Bangladesh ready-made garment factories, this fire highlights the need for continued, collaborative efforts to ensure that all factories are thoroughly remediated, with the greatest possible emphasis on empowering workers with the safety training they need to respond in an emergency.

 

Alliance Statement on the January 24 Gazipur Chemical Factory Fire

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January 26, 2016—The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety expresses its condolences to the families of the six individuals who have lost their lives, and the 10 who were injured, in a chemical factory fire in Gazipur on January 24. This tragedy is further evidence that all factories in Bangladesh—not just the garment factories covered by current safety initiatives, including the Alliance—must be inspected and remediated to ensure that every worker is protected.

The mission of the Alliance is to ensure that factories from which our Members source meet strict inspection standards and provide a safe working environment free of structural, electrical and fire-related hazards. All 700+ of these factories have been inspected, their 1.1 million workers provided with Alliance fire safety training, and all are now undergoing remediation to ensure they meet the highest standards of safety—progress that is saving lives. The Alliance and our 27 member companies have formally severed ties with 24 factories that have failed to comply with these standards.

We urge the government of Bangladesh to take further steps to implement the National Action Plan commitments to improve factory safety, and to ensure that such work extends beyond the garment industry to improve workplace safety in all enterprises of Bangladesh.

 

Statement on the Third Anniversary of the Fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd.

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On this day in 2012, 112 workers lost their lives in the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. garment factory fire, and many others were injured in this tragedy. Today, we pay our deepest respects to the victims and their families.

In the three years since the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. fire, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has worked in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, factory owners and workers, and other stakeholders to expand safety measures in factories. As part of this joint effort, the Alliance has worked to secure affordable, long-term financing for factory owners to initiate critical structural, electrical, and fire safety repairs while providing safety training programs for workers, security guards, and factory managers. We have also established a helpline that factory workers can use to share safety concerns anonymously.

Our work has made the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh safer for the millions of workers that it employs. On this important day, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety remains committed to the mission of creating sustainable transformation in this important industry.

The Alliance Annual Report, 2015

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annual report 2015 intro image2

Protecting and Empowering Bangladesh’s Garment Workers
Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Second Annual Report

Over the last two years, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has accomplished a great deal under difficult circumstances. Although challenging, the Alliance’s mission of creating a safer and more respectful environment for garment factory workers inspires all of us because we know how important our work is for factory workers, the garment industry and, ultimately, the people of Bangladesh.

Click here to download the complete report: English / Bangla

You may also download related stand-alone documents below:

Alliance Membership Elects New Board of Directors and Board of Advisors Members

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For Immediate Release: July 22, 2015

 

New York, NY - At its second annual Members’ Meeting, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) today elected Tapan Chowdhury, founder of Square Textiles Limited and former president of the Dhaka Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Simone Sultana, chair of BRAC UK, to serve on its board of directors.

Alliance and IFC Join Forces on Credit Facility to Finance Improvements

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For Immediate Release: Contact: Guillermo Meneses
July 7, 2015 +1 (202) 445-1570 / media@afbws.org

$50 million to be provided to Bangladesh banks to increase lending to factory owners

Washington, D.C.—The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) has brokered a first-of-its-kind agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to help suppliers finance factory repairs. Through the resulting credit facility, the IFC will provide USD $10 million each to five Bangladeshi banks—USD $50 million total—for affordable loans to factory owners making necessary safety repairs.

Triumph over tragedy: reimagining Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry

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Last year, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced that her vision for the Bangladesh ready-made garment (RMG) sector was to reach $50bn in exports by 2021. It is an important and ambitious goal for a nation that has worked hard to develop a brighter economic future. With the RMG sector accounting for 81 per cent of Bangladesh’s overall exports, reaching such a milestone could help the nation substantially reduce poverty and strengthen economic outcomes for millions of people.

Read the rest at FT.com

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