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Bangla tragedy fallout - EU Global Sustainability Compact
Jul '13
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht launched in Geneva a joint initiative for improving conditions for workers in Bangladeshi garment factories. The move is a response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka in April which resulted in over 1,100 deaths.

The Sustainability Compact seeks to improve labour, health and safety conditions for workers, as well as to encourage responsible behaviour by businesses in the ready-made garment industry in the South Asian country.

Joining Commissioner De Gucht in Geneva to co-launch the Compact were Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder. Representatives of Bangladeshi manufacturers, major European importers, trade unions and other key stakeholders supporting the initiative were present at the launch as well.

“It’s clear that we need to join forces to be able to improve the labour conditions for the thousands of Bangladeshi workers in the garment industry”, said Commissioner De Gucht. “This Compact is the basis - now we need to make every effort to make it a reality so that another Rana Plaza-type tragedy in Bangladesh can be avoided. The EU is ready and committed to support Bangladesh's efforts.”

The initiative, the full title of which is “Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labour Rights and Factory Safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh”, lists commitments to act within deadlines on issues such as:

Reforming the Bangladesh Labour Law to strengthen workers’ rights, in particular regarding freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and to improve occupational health and safety. A new Labour Law should be in place by the end of 2013. The ILO will monitor the effective enforcement of the new legislation.

Recruiting 200 additional inspectors by the end of 2013, as part of the efforts to ensure regular visits to factories and assess them in terms of working conditions, including occupational safety and health, and compliance with labour laws.

Improving building and fire safety, especially structural safety of buildings and fire safety in ready-made garment factories, by June 2014. The ILO will help to coordinate efforts and mobilise technical resources.

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