The Government of Norway has intensified its efforts to strengthen the rights of those working in the garment and textile industry.
“We must do whatever we can to ensure that the textile industry has safe workplaces with decent pay and good working conditions – for both men and women,” Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås said in a statement.
Norway imports garments, textiles and other goods, which create thousands of jobs in developing countries.
While increased trade is crucial for development, the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, which housed five garment units, shows that there is need for action.
“Suppliers, consumers and politicians—all have a responsibility to act to prevent a disaster of this kind from happening again,” Mr. Holmås said.
According to the statement, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) has provided up to 14.3 million krone in funding for the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Norway, to actively pursue programmes to improve conditions for textile and garment workers in China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh.
One of the measures under the initiative is courses for manufacturers on decent work. Under this, employers and employees come together to practice how to have a constructive dialogue.
Courses under this initiative have already been developed for manufacturers in China, India and Vietnam, and NORAD is now extending its agreement with the ETI to include Bangladesh as well, the statement said.
The objective of the NORAD initiative is to have 700 employers attend courses run by the ETI during 2013-15 period.
During his visit to Bangladesh in June this year, Mr. Holmås said Norway’s import of garments from Bangladesh have increased over the past ten years and is expected to rise further.
He estimated the current Norway-Bangladesh textile and garment trade at one billion krone annually.
He said as the trade between the two countries increases, it also improves relations between the two peoples and thus brings the Bangladesh garment industry closer to Norway. Hence, incidents like Rana Plaza are a matter of concern for the Norwegian people.