The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have launched a USD $24.21 million initiative – including a new Better Work programme - aimed at improving working conditions in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh.
The three-and-a-half year initiative, ‘Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector’ - (RMGP) focuses on minimizing the threat of fire and building collapse in ready-made garment factories and on ensuring the rights and safety of workers.
It has been developed in collaboration with government, employers’ and workers’ representatives in response to a number of industrial accidents in the sector, including the Rana Plaza building collapse in April in which more than 1,100 workers died.
“ILO has played a long-term role in Bangladesh, with extensive involvement in the RMG sector prior to the Tazreen Fashions fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse,” said ILO Deputy-Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships, Mr. Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo. “This programme will provide support in implementing the National Tripartite Plan of Action on fire safety and structural integrity. Successful implementation of the programme will ensure better working conditions and safety for the ready-made garment workers in Bangladesh.”
Mr. Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of Bangladesh stressed, “The Government has initiated some substantive works on occupational safety and health for the ready-made garment sector workers. I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to the development partners who have provided support in this initiative.”
“The Government has acted as a facilitator with an eager helping hand toward the garment industry. Now we have been joined by the goodwill of the buyers of garments and our development partners in our effort to ensure safety and security of factories and security and welfare of the labourers,” said Mr. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Finance. “I hope that the project on ‘Improving Working conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector’ will definitely make significant contribution towards enduring safe and better working condition in Ready-Made Garment sector in Bangladesh,” he added.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are jointly contributing USD $15 million to the programme. The ILO is also mobilising further resources.
The RMG programme will provide technical support for building and fire safety assessments; strengthen and support labour, fire and buildings inspections; build occupational safety and health awareness, capacity and systems and provide rehabilitation and skills training for the victims of the disasters at Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions( where 112 workers died in a fire in November 2012).
“Rana Plaza and Tazreen became the symbols of what is wrong in the RMG sector. Now Bangladesh, supported by the international community, has the chance to get it right. The Netherlands supports this ILO programme because it contains all the crucial elements to make the garment sector safe and sustainable. For us this is a perfect example of using aid to promote responsible trade,” said Mr Gerben Sjoerd de Jong, H.E. Ambassador of the Netherlands in Bangladesh.