Two global federations have launched a new initiative aiming to address the problems related to audit and standard fatigue in textile and clothing industries, sources said.
International Apparel Federation (IAF) and International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) unveiled their joint initiative-Standards Convergence Initiative or SCI-last week to accelerate reduction of audit and standard fatigue, they added.
The launch of the joint initiative took place during a side session at the five-day OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector which began on February 01.
IAF, the world's leading federation for apparel manufacturers, (SME) brands, their associations and the supporting industry from more than 40 countries, brought its members together to jointly create stronger, smarter and more sustainable supply chains.
ITMF, founded in 1904, is an international forum for the world's textile industries.
The SCI will serve as a global industry-wide platform to discuss and develop a strategy as well as the tools to accelerate the reduction of audit and standard fatigue in the clothing and textile industries, the two groups said in a statement.
"The auditing conduct of standard holders, along with brands, retailers and other buyers' decisions determines if we are moving firmly in the direction of less unnecessary overlap of audits and standards."
Therefore, one of the first steps of the SCI, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC), is to create transparency in the conduct of the main standard holders, brands and retailers and third party standard holders, measuring to what extent they are contributing to the reduction of audit and standard fatigue, the statement added.
When asked, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Dr Rubana Huq said they always wanted standard audit procedure for all the factories because it is very difficult to cater to different audits which costs money.
Every audit costs a lot of money ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 and they are literally checking almost the same thing, she added.
Citing the data that showed overlapping of same issues by different auditors, she said if these can be combined, it could be a great issue. "IAF has been working with it."
Dr Rubana also said it is important for Bangladesh to align with the initiative to reduce the cost, hassle and time. "Bangladesh will align with IAF and try to negotiate all necessary steps to eliminate multiple audits."
Talking to the FE, Shahidullah Azim a former BGMEA leader, said on an average, four audits have been done in his factory annually by different auditors where the majority of issues are the same.
"It is unnecessary as I need to pay $4,000 to $5,000 for each audit," he said, adding that it also needs much time.
If a unified standard for audit is set, it would be helpful for the factories to reduce its costs especially during the pandemic that hit hard the industry, he noted.