M&J Bangladesh

WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety said four new affiliated factories completed their corrective action plans in December, while it suspended 15 more plants.

The total number of factories that have “graduated” from the Alliance’s remediation plan stands at 50. But the additional 15 suspensions brought the total number of current suspended factories to 117.

The factories achieving substantial completion of their CAPs in December include Arrow Jeans Pvt. Ltd., LCB International BD Ltd., Smart Jeans Ltd. and That’s It Sweater Ltd.

The Alliance said Smart Jeans is the first Alliance-affiliated factory to complete required remediation after being suspended and subsequently reactivated.

“We commend these factories for upholding their obligation to provide safer workplaces for their employees, as required by the Alliance,” said Alliance country director Jim Moriarty. “They have shown that achieving the highest standard of workplace safety is within reach for all factories and we are pleased to work in partnership with those committed to the task.”

The Alliance is made up of 29 mainly U.S. firms, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Gap Inc. and VF Corp. The industry-led initiative was formed in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy that claimed the lives of 1,133 workers and injured more than 2,000, along with the separate Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, comprised of 200 mostly European companies with two global unions, IndustriALL and UNI Global Union.

The industry group has been working for nearly three years as part of a five-year commitment to inspect factories in Bangladesh, which number about 685. The Alliance does not disclose which brands and retailers are connected to the factories it reviews in its progress reports.

Among the key activities it performs are independent inspections on the structural, electrical and fire safety of all factories from which its members source. Factories receive corrective action plans aimed at helping address safety issues and achieving compliance with the Alliance’s safety standards. The group also provides technical advice and access to low-cost loans to assist factories with remediation. It said it is on track to remediate all critical safety issues in its active factories by 2018.

Labor and workers’ rights groups have alleged that Alliance member companies are falling behind on commitments to make factories in Bangladesh safe, potentially putting workers’ lives at risk.

But the Alliance has defended its commitments to improving safety in the country’s apparel industry, noting that nearly 1.3 million workers in Alliance-compliant factories are “safer than prior to creation of the Alliance.”