The workshop, convened by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of Bangladesh, and the International Labour Organization, brought together all key national and international stakeholders from the RMG sector, representatives from different ministries and agencies, employers’ and workers’ groups and technical specialists on building and fire safety.
Participants attending the workshop at the Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka, agreed the need for a uniform approach to the setting of common fire, electrical and building safety assessment standards in the readymade garment industry (RMG).
Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Mikail Shipar, said this was critical because the assessments would be carried out by different initiatives.
“We welcome the commitment made by the Accord and the Alliance to coordinate the development of the standards to be used for the assessments. The Tripartite Committee will, with the assistance of the ILO and in consultation with the Accord and the Alliance, organize the activities required to realize such coordination,” the Labour Secretary said.
It follows the Rana Plaza building collapse tragedy in April, in which 1,132 people died and more than one thousand workers were injured.
Several national and international commitments and initiatives resulted from the tragedy – all aimed at improving safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories.
These include the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Compact on improving working conditions and promoting the application of international labour standards, issued by the European Union, Governments of Bangladesh and the United States and the ILO.
A National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire safety and Structural Integrity has been signed and is the basis for initiating assessments in garment factories.
ILO Country Director, Srinivas Reddy, stressed that it will be vital for all parties to work together.
“It is necessary to agree on a coordinated approach towards safety standards and assessment and inspection methodologies to avoid the duplication of inspections of the same factories and to ensure that the same basic standards are applied.”
Assessments of factories not covered by the Alliance and the Accord will begin towards the end of September and will be carried out by the 30 engineering teams led by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and nine other technical universities, under the supervision of the National Tripartite Committee.
The Labour Secretary urged the Alliance and the Accord to share their list of factories so that duplication can beavoided and the national effort can begin without further delay.
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