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Apparel makers unhappy with Nirapon, the new platform in Bangladesh

Apparel makers in Bangladesh have raised concerns over the new platform Nirapon. They say, it creates confusion about safety standards and adds new cost burdens in the name of monitoring and training. They feel Nirapon’s training module is the same as that of Alliance.

Nirapon was formed this year by 23 brands and retailers, including Walmart. Most are signatories of Alliance that folded its operations last December. Among other things, Nirapon will identify service providers capable of supporting regular supplier monitoring, remediation, capacity building and training. Suppliers have to work directly with service providers under the supervision of Nirapon. Alliance inspected fire, electrical and structural integrity of some 700 garment factories and remediated flaws in the last five years after the Rana Plaza collapse.

After the departure of Alliance, factories have been conducting in-house training on health and safety and maintaining safety standards prescribed by Alliance. So, apparel makers say, fulfilling the old requirements on the compliance issue in a new format is a waste of time and labor. After investing huge amounts of money in the industry to ensure workplace safety during the last five years, manufacturers are unwilling to bear a new cost burden. What they have asked for instead is reducing the scope of maintenance audits, which will result in a substantial reduction in fees.