Although a few changes are happening, a lot more needs to be done to improve rights and workplace safety of readymade garment (RMG) workers in Bangladesh, William Hanna, EU’s Ambassador to Bangladesh, has said.
The Ambassador was speaking to media persons after attending a programme “Lives beyond machines –a reflection on priorities for women in the RMG sector” organised by CARE Bangladesh.
Mr. Hanna said that Bangladesh has taken several initiatives, including the labour law amendment, hike in minimum wages, relaxation in rules to allow workers to form trade unions in factories, but all these need to be properly implemented.
He mentioned that progress in terms of free association of workers, payment of compensation to the Rana Plaza victims and implementation of minimum wages is not satisfactory.
He informed that the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a forum of 150 retailers, mostly European, will inspect around 1,600 garment units and the factory owners will have to rectify the flaws identified by the inspectors, and factories must be shut in case of major irregularities.
Earlier, addressing the CARE Bangladesh event, organized as part of its project Solidarity and Empowerment through Education, Motivation and Awareness (SEEMA) funded by the EU, Mr. Hanna said women working in garment manufacturing units should be safe at their workplaces, free from harassment, and they should also be paid well.
Laying emphasis on training for young girls, Mr. Hanna said better training would secure than better job and better earnings.
Christine Hunter, UN Women Country Representative, said women in Bangladesh’s clothing industry contribute immensely to their national economy, but the country has failed to meet on of the Millennium Development Goals – decent work for women.
Around 80 percent of the people employed in Bangladesh’s garment industry are women, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
During July-February 2013-14, Bangladesh’s garment exports grew by 16.68 percent year-on-year to US$ 16.138 billion, as per data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).