Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – A 12-member delegation of the North American Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative will arrive in the capital on Sunday to discuss in details its five-year action plan to ensure safety standards at the Bangladeshi readymade garment factories.
During the three-day visit, the delegation headed by its chair Ellen O’ Kane Tauscher will hold separate meetings with high officials of foreign, labour and commerce ministries and the garment sector leaders.  
The delegation also includes Wesley Wilson, senior director for ethical sourcing of Walmart, Jan Saumweber, senior vice-president of global Walmart team, Ignacio Lopez, vice-president (global sourcing) of Walmart, Bobbi Silten, alliance board member and president of Gap Foundation, Daniel Duty, alliance board member and vice-president (global affairs) of Target, Rick Darling, vice-chairman of Li & Fung, Ian Spaulding, senior partner of ELEVATE, Jeff Krilla, executive director of Alliance, James Moriarty, Alliance board member, Randy Tucker, Alliance board member and fire and safety consultant, Urmila Venugopalan of Albright Stonebridge Group, Rumee Ali, Alliance board member and managing director of BRAC, Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, and Humayun Kabir, former ambassador and a representative of Bower Group.
Rumee, Atiqul and Humayun will join the delegation in Bangladesh.
Alliance, the US-based clothing brands and retailers consortium, will hold its board meeting at Hotel Radisson in the city at 10:00am on Sunday, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (MGMEA)  officials said.
The delegation will meet with the labour, commerce and foreign secretaries at 12:30pm at Meghna in Dhaka, the state guest house.
The Alliance delegation will also hold meetings with the BGMEA leaders and the American ambassador on September 16 and 17 respectively.
In the meetings, the participants will discuss fire and building safety and take decisions to set parameter, action plans, and a common code of conduct to be used for inspection, a labour ministry official said.
The consortium of North American buyers recently said that Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative would provide rapid implementation, worker empowerment and a long-term commitment to sustainable change. 
The Initiative represents a significant financial commitment, including an initial worker safety fund, currently $42 million, and the additional availability of over $100 million in access to low-cost capital funding to improve fire and structural safety in Bangladeshi factories, the alliance had announced.
After the Rana Plaza disaster killed 1,131 workers, 17 North American retailers, including Walmart and Gap, on July 10 formed the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative undertaking a five-year plan.
Now the number of signatories has reached 20, which sets aggressive timelines and accountability for inspections, training and worker empowerment. 
In the overview of the action plan, the Alliance said that this effort was focused on identifying the most achievable means for North American retailers and brands to work with the government and the stakeholders to help ensure the safety of Bangladeshi workers. 
The result is a legally binding commitment among founding Alliance members who collectively represent the overwhelming majority of US imports of RMG from Bangladesh, produced at more than 500 factories.
Meanwhile, British experts arrive here this weekend to help improve safety and building standards in the country’s garment sector, Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening announced on Saturday.  
 The team of three UK experts, two from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and one from the Better Regulation Delivery Office, will be here at the request of Bangladesh building regulations agency to help tackle weaknesses in the industrial building inspections regime, a British High Commission statement said.
They will examine building standards legislation, toughening it up to prevent people from dying in accidents, scrutinise the current inspections regimes for existing and new buildings, including garment factories, and strengthening legislation enforcement; and look at how the UK can help to better enforce building standards, including in collaboration with private sector and International Labour Organisation initiatives.   
Their subsequent recommendations will help protect workers by ensuring building standards and safety measures are properly enforced, as well as making it easier for businesses to comply with their legal obligations, it added.
“The tragic factory collapse in Bangladesh in May was a wake-up call about the appalling conditions that workers in the developing world endure to produce cheap clothes. British retailers and industry bodies like the Ethical Trading Initiative are already working with DFID to play their part in improving safety for workers,” Justine Greening said.  
 “Now we’re sending out three UK experts to share their wealth of experience in safe and effective building regulation to help prevent future tragedies and save lives.”   During his visit to Bangladesh last June, Development Minister Alan Duncan also announced UK support for skills training for 100,000 low-skilled garment and construction workers, to improve overall productivity and help produce higher-value products.
In July, Justine Greening met top British business leaders from the retail industry to discuss how they can work with the government to improve supply chains to ensure clothes are produced responsibly.  
 The meeting – the first of its kind – brought together senior representatives from Britain’s biggest high street names including Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Arcadia, as well as industry bodies such as the Ethical Trading Initiative. It was co-hosted by International Development Minister Alan Duncan and took place at DFID’s offices on Whitehall.   
The experts are part of the Investment Facility for Utilising UK Specialist Expertise (IFUSE), a British government initiative to match demand for private sector support in developing countries with skills from a broad range of UK government departments, agencies and related standards bodies, in the form of short term, targeted deployments.  
 Their visit is part of a raft of initiatives to help buyers, manufacturers, workers, NGOs and the Bangladeshi authorities work together to agree a set of common compliance standards, bringing accountability to the supply chain, health and safety to workers and robustly enforced construction standards to the buildings in which they work.   
IFUSE is managed by DFID’s managing agent, PwC. It has supported over 40 deployments across 18 DFID partner countries since its launch in 2012, including to Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.   
The visit follows the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Dhaka, in April this year in which over 1,100 garment factory workers lost their lives.
BBN/SSR/AD-15Sept13-12:50 pm (BST)