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RMG sector free from child labour: B'desh to US
Feb '12
In its hearing at the United States Trade Representatives (USTR), Bangladesh has said that its readymade garment (RMG) sector does not employ any child labour and there is improvement in compliances in manufacturing units.

The hearing was necessitated as the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) had filed complaints with the USTR in relation to issues such as child labour, trade unionism and labour rights in factories of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh submitted its answers to the USTR in early January and subsequently a 14-member delegation, which included Government officials and representatives of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), attended the hearing. The delegation replied to queries on child labour, compliance in factories and labour rights.

The Government claimed that the labour rights situation had improved substantially in garment manufacturing units following a hike in minimum wage. It also claimed that 5 percent of the net profit of any garment unit in the country is being spent on welfare of the workers.

The Government disclosed that the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 is being implemented by the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishment under the Ministry of Labour. The Act ensures that several rules are followed by the manufacturing sector including those related to the issuance of appointment letters and identity cards to labourers, overtime and maternity benefits, leave, maximum working hours and minimum age.

After presenting its case, Bangladesh is now optimistic that its duty-free exports to the US under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility will continue.

The US GSP provides duty-free entry of about 4,800 items from 129 beneficiary countries and regions to the US market. However, Bangladesh does not gain much as garments, its main export item, is not included in the list of 4,800 products.

Currently, garment exports from Bangladesh are subjected to an average duty of 17 percent, while apparels made from man-made fibres (MMF) attract the highest duty of 32 percent.

In fiscal year 2010-11, Bangladesh garment exports to the US accounted for US$ 4.63 billion, or about 26 percent of the country's total garment exports worth US$ 17.9 billion.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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