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US Senator urges retailers to empower B'desh RMG workers
Sep '13
Mr. Robert Menendez
Mr. Robert Menendez
US Senator Robert Menendez, who is also the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has urged American retailers to help make a lasting contribution to the safety of Bangladeshi readymade garment (RMG) workers and the sustainability of Bangladesh’s garment industry.
In a letter to former US Rep. Ellen O’Kane Tauscher, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, Senator Menendez has called on the Alliance to take an active role in increasing awareness and understanding of workers’ rights in Bangladesh’s garment factories, a press release from the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said.
The letter to the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety follows the June hearing on labor issues in Bangladesh, chaired by Senator Menendez.
“While I applaud the many initiatives in the Alliance’s action plan to ensure fire and building safety in its members’ factories, it does not adequately empower the workers in those factories to ensure their own safety,” the letter said.
“Bangladesh’s factories will be truly safer when the workers can organize, speak and act together, without fear of retribution from factory owners or managers,” it added.
Pointing the real problem, he said factory owners and managers in Bangladesh have serious misperceptions regarding the role of unions and the potential of constructive labor relations, due to Bangladesh’s troubled history of labor relations.
On the other hand, owing to a lack of education and experience, many Bangladeshi garment workers are uninformed of their rights and responsibilities as workers and the benefits of having unions in the workplace.
“Simply put, owners are scared of unions and workers are scared to organize; both sides appear to fear what they do not know,” explains the Senator in the letter.
According to its plan, the Alliance will send training teams into all of its 500-plus factories to educate both managers and workers on fire and building safety, over the next one year.
Senator Menendez urged the Alliance to expand its program to include education of workers on their rights and responsibilities with regard to organizing and, more importantly, education of owners and managers with regard to accepting unions in their factories and cooperating with union leaders to improve working conditions.
“By working directly in its factories to dispel the ignorance surrounding the proper role of unions, the Alliance will improve the safety of its factories and, consequently, the reputations of its members,” the Senator said.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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