WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a North-American industry-led consortium, said Wednesday it has elected a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to its board of advisers, a week after the president of BGMEA resigned from its board of directors.
Vidiya Amrit Khan, director of Desh Garments Ltd. and a director of BGMEA, has been elected to serve on the Alliance’s 10-member advisory board, the group said at the conclusion of its annual meeting in New York.
The Alliance, a group of 26 brands and retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, J.C. Penney and VF Corp., has been working to ensure safety in Bangladesh’s garment industry in the wake of two industrial tragedies that claimed the lives of more than 1,240 people.
The Alliance and a second group — Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety — have reportedly faced growing resentment among factory owners represented by the BGMEA in the last few months as they increase the scope of their work to include worker training and new occupational safety and health committees for workers.
Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, resigned from the Alliance’s board of directors last week amid rising tensions between factory owners and the Bangladesh government, and the Alliance and Accord.
Two new members were elected to the Alliance’s board of directors on Wednesday, but no officials from BGMEA were added to the board of directors to replace Islam.
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 U.K., were both elected to the board of directors.
“The Alliance board of director members are chosen based on individual competencies, not just their affiliations,” said Guillermo Meneses, an Alliance spokesman, in an interview. “There is no designated BGMEA seat on the Alliance board.”
“We look forward to continuing to work with BGMEA, the government of Bangladesh and all stakeholders sharing in our goal and priority of ensuring safety in garment factories and empowerment of garment factory workers in Bangladesh,” he added.
Muhammad A. Rumee Ali, former managing director of BRAC Enterprises & Investments, was also elected to the advisory board.
“The Alliance board of advisors provides expertise and counsel to the Alliance board of directors and senior leadership, and the membership relies on their guidance and counsel to inform their efforts to bring about safe working conditions for garment factory workers in Bangladesh,” the group said in a statement.