North America-based apparel brands and retailers on Wednesday launched a new platform, ‘Nirapon’, to oversee the ongoing safety, training and helpline efforts at the Alliance-listed garment factories.
A total of 21 global apparel brands with more than a dozen of former Alliance-signatory members, including Gap, Walmart, JC Penny and VF, have joined the locally-managed organisation with the commitment to sustaining the culture of factory safety in Bangladesh, according to a statement.
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety had shut down its operations in the readymade garment (RMG) sector here as its transitional period ended on December 31.
Some 29 apparel companies formed the platform in 2013 immediately after the Rana Plaza disaster to improve the workplace safety in the RMG industry.
Nirapon will monitor the factories from which its member brands source to verify that they continue to meet the National Action Plan harmonised standards for structural, fire, and electrical safety, have implemented standardised training programmes focused on worker safety and continue to make the helpline service, Amader Kotha, available to their factory workers, the statement added.
Nirapon would serve as a single point of contact between its members and the factories on these issues and would also focus on building local capacity to manage fire and building safety to sustain the investments in worker safety that have been made to date, it added.
Nirapon is not a regulatory agency, but a member organisation tasked with serving as a single point of contact between its member brands and factories on factory safety issues.
“Nirapon will have no authority to suspend factories, instead, leaving sourcing decisions to each of its members,” the statement said.
“Following Rana Plaza, Bangladesh has made tremendous progress towards building a safer RMG industry,” Nirapon Chief Executive Officer Moushumi Khan said, adding: “Now, moving forward, Nirapon is poised to drive efficiencies and help maintain a critical focus on the rights of workers to a safe workplace.”
When asked, an Alliance-inspected garment factory owner said the new initiative would be somehow better than nothing and added that the industry is now heading towards ‘loose monitoring and finally no such monitoring rather self one’ from the intense one.