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Partners review B'desh Sustainability Compact
Feb '16
Representatives of the EU, US, Canada, Bangladesh and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – partners committed to the so called Bangladesh Sustainability Compact – met in Dhaka this week to review the progress and set priorities for further work to improve situation of Bangladeshi textile workers. The meeting was also an opportunity for an open dialogue with stakeholders including trade unions, NGOs, buyers and employers, the European Commission said in a press release.

The Sustainability Compact which was born in the aftermath of tragic factory collapses in 2013, has brought about some tangible progress. The Bangladesh Government has put in place a legal framework for labour protection that has now to be effectively implemented. Under the initiative, important work has also been done on initial safety inspections in factories and to strengthen capacity of inspection services.

EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Mobility Marianne Thyssen said: "The progress achieved so far proves that initiatives like the Bangladesh Compact can be effective in promoting genuine social dialogue and decent working conditions in the global context. While aiming for more fairness in global supply chains, we must also continue to encourage essential reforms."

The priorities for further work singled out by the participants of the meeting include tackling issues related to registration of trade unions, ensuring appropriate investigation and prosecution of unfair labour practices and ensuring that workers can freely elect their representatives at factory level consistently with ILO conventions. Workers in Export Processing Zones should also have commensurate rights to those of the workers outside these zones.

On the safety side, the joint conclusions point to the importance of practical measures and repairs that need to be carried out in the factories. Sustainability Compact partners will also continue supporting Bangladeshi authorities in building capacity necessary for an effective supervision of occupational safety and health conditions, electrical safety and structural integrity of buildings and work in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.

The parties warmly welcomed Canada as a new partner to the Compact and reaffirmed their commitment. The work will now continue and the next progress review is planned in a year's time.

The Compact outlines concrete commitments in respect of labour rights, in particular freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, as well as structural integrity of factory buildings, occupational safety and health, and promotion of responsible business conduct. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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