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Bangladesh's RMG sector much safer now: US ambassador
May '18
Bangladesh’s RMG sector is much safer than in 2013 when the Rana Plaza disaster occurred, said US ambassador Marcia Bernicat. She added that Bangladesh has made progress on workplace safety, especially with the support of buyer-led initiatives like the Accord and the Alliance, and it must do a better job at marketing the dramatic improvements.

Bernicat was speaking at a press conference on Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the BGMEA Institute of Fashion & Technology (BUFT)’s journalism study tour through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) entitled ‘Economic and Labor Reporting’.

“We must all recognise that there is still work to be done on factory and building safety, that we must continue our efforts to ensure remediated factories stay safe, and that new workers are properly trained on safety practices. I urge BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh to come to a quick resolution on the Accord and Alliance’s extensions in Bangladesh. Delays in approving their extensions will send a negative signal to buyers and consumers that Bangladesh is not committed to workplace safety,” added the US ambassador.

IVLP will allow 11 Bangladeshi participants to travel to Washington, D.C. and New York to meet with policymakers, journalists, apparel industry leaders, labour rights organisations, and consumer rights organisations. IVLP is one of the most prestigious state department exchange programmes for professionals.

Every year the US Embassy partners with the private sector and NGOs throughout Bangladesh to design IVLP proposals and send dozens of professionals to the US for this learning opportunity. When these BGMEA-BUFT Journalism Fellows returns from the programme, they will also join a global network of alumni who work every day to improve their professional sectors, communities, countries, and the world.

In addition to learning about US journalism methods and best practices, the fellows will experience first-hand why the US cares about workplace safety and labour rights issues as a global issue. Factory safety and labour rights are not just a priority for the US government; they are a priority for our legislators, civil society, US businesses and, more importantly, for US consumers. Respecting workers’ rights is important to ensuring free and fair trade and investment around the world. The US Embassy’s efforts to improve workplace safety and labour rights, which includes a broad range of programming and outreach, are derived from the priorities of stakeholders in the US, said Bernicat at the conference.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank BGMEA for its work to propose significant reforms the Bangladesh Labor Act and the EPZ Labor Law. Recent proposals that have been discussed are movement in the right direction, but I call on BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh to do more to truly meet international standards, as recommended by the International Labor Organization (ILO),” she continued.

BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh are at a critical juncture as Bangladesh prepares to graduate from least developed country status in 2024, having already met all three criteria required for this important step. Ahead of the International Labor Conference on May 28 and the Sustainability Compact on June 25, I encourage BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh to seize the moment and resolve the long-standing labour rights concerns now, so that Bangladesh can focus on preparing for its future as a middle income country and, eventually, a developed country,” concluded Bernicat. (KD)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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