Speakers at a high-level event to commemorate One Year after Rana Plaza, reiterated their commitment to working together to ensure safety and rights for workers in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh.
“It has been a year of continuous efforts by the Government of Bangladesh towards the goal of ensuring safety for the workers and to prevent another Rana Plaza type incident in the future,” said Engr. Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment.
“We have already upgraded the Chief Inspector of Factories and Establishments office to a Department, sanctioning 679 new staff positions in the Directorate, including 392 new inspectors. This fulfils the major promise made in the National Tripartite Plan of Action (NTPA), and the current government is committed to continue its effort,” added the minister.
A minute of silence was observed in remembrance of the 1,135 who lost their lives in the collapse of Rana Plaza on 24 April 2013. Most of the victims were workers from the ready-made garment (RMG) factories housed in the building.
The Government of Bangladesh and the ILO are implementing a three-and-a-half-year initiative aimed at improving working conditions in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. The USD $24.21 million RMG programme is funded by Canada, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Looking back at the past year Gilbert Houngbo, ILO Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, said he was encouraged by what had been achieved and stressed the importance of keeping up momentum to deliver on all aspects of the NTPA.
“Much has been done, now the factory inspections must be completed, compensation claims processed and the labour law implemented in full. The increased number of factory unions is a significant step towards improved workers’ rights. Training for the new unions and employers is essential, so that a better future for the RMG sector can be built on social dialogue,” Houngbo said.
“We also need to think ahead in terms of preparedness, through a workplace injury insurance scheme for example,” he added.
Under the RMG Programme the ILO is providing support in terms of coordinating inspections and technical assistance, including training and logistics to the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) for inspecting factory buildings, both for structural integrity and fire and electrical safety.