B'desh takes stock of RMG sector on Rana Plaza anniversary
Speakers at a commemoration event in Dhaka to mark the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy acknowledged the progress made towards creating a safer ready made garment (RMG) sector for Bangladesh while stressing the need for further improvements to working conditions and worker rights in the industry, according to a statement by the International Labour Organisation.
“Continuous efforts have been made by the Government of Bangladesh and its partners over the last two years to transform our apparel industry,” the ILO statement quoted him as saying Md. Mujibul Haque minister of state for labour and employment. “Almost three-quarters of garment factories have now been assessed for structural and fire safety with only a very small number being deemed too unsafe to operate. The capacity of the labour inspectorate and fire service is much stronger while legislative amendments have led to the establishment of many more unions. These changes will play a crucial role in charting the future course of the industry, turning it into a sustainable sector,” he added.
A minute’s silence was observed at the event in remembrance of the 1,136 who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza collapse on 24 April 2013. Most victims were from RMG factories housed in the building.
Over the last two years the Bangladesh government has worked closely with the ILO and a wide range of partners to improve working conditions in the RMG sector. Over 2,500 out of 3,500 export-oriented RMG factories have been inspected for structural, fire and electrical safety so far. The labour inspectorate and fire service are carrying out a more effective regulatory oversight role following extensive capacity building. Efforts are underway to enhance occupational safety and health while rehabilitation support has been provided to Rana Plaza survivors.
ILO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Ms Tomoko Nishimoto, also acknowledged the progress but cautioned against any slackness in the efforts being made.
“Significant progress has been made but many challenges remain. Completing the remaining factory inspections is high priority and government must verify factories claiming to be closed as well as deal with those which will not cooperate. Progress in enhancing safety needs to be matched by similar improvements in workers’ rights. The Rana Plaza compensation process has highlighted the need for an employment injury insurance scheme that benefits workers and the industry alike,” she said.
The event, ‘Rana Plaza Two Years On: Towards a Safer RMG Sector for Bangladesh’ was organised by the Bangladesh government and ILO. It was supported by Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom which are funding ILO activities to enhance working conditions in Bangladesh.
US ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, said, “Amazing things are happening in Bangladesh, and more must happen to sustain the progress made and ensure workers have a voice. We call today for stakeholders to re-commit to workers’ rights and safety so that no worker need fear such a tragedy again.” (SH)
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India