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BGMEA refutes US senator's report on Bangla garment units

Mar '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) recently protested a report, titled ‘Seven Years after Rana Plaza, Significant Challenges Remain’, by US Senator Robert Menendez on labour rights and safety in the country's apparel units.

Association president Rubana Huq called on the senator to share his detailed findings with BGMEA.

Last week, Menendez, who sits on the committee on foreign relations in the Senate, submitted the report to the committee expressing concerns over the welfare of the workers in the garment industry.

"I believe that we need to address all your concerns with as much accuracy and transparency and with our best intent to try and change the general narrative on labour practices in Bangladesh," said Rubana Huq, president of the association, in a letter to Menendez early this week.

"It's common to begin any conversation and report with a tragedy. It's also true that repetitive reference to a national tragedy often belittles all the progresses that have been achieved and lessons that were learnt often undervalued," she said, referring to Rana Plaza collapse.

A tripartite Readymade Garment Sustainability Council (RSC) has been formed in Bangladesh, comprising six representatives from workers, brands and the industry each.

"As far as safety remediation is concerned, we have accepted all external recommendations and have brought revolutionary changes in all aspects of safety in record speed, and thus have proved ourselves worth of any stakeholders' confidence," Bangla media reports quoted the letter as saying.

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh receives regular phone calls from workers about occupational health and safety.

The RSC will address these calls from everyone, including non-Accord and the Nirapon factory safety programme, the BGMEA said. The Accord received 36 calls in 2019 and 2020, the letter said.

On the complaint of termination of workers by 104 garment factories in December 2018, the letter said a committee was formed in May last year to assess the appropriateness of the number of terminated labourers and filed cases and to find justified solutions.

Bangladesh amended the labour laws and increased the minimum wage for garment workers in 2018.

The BGMEA visits factories to ensure that a five-member anti-sexual harassment committee is set up. It has visited 1,221 factories so far. In Dhaka and Chattogram, where most of the factories are located, 453 and 17 factories have respectively established the committee.

The association has piloted an e-wallet to allow workers to go cashless, adding ease and convenience to their lives. The project will be initiated by June this year.

Besides, more than 100 garment workers are studying at the Asian University for Women in Chattogram. These workers are supported with their wages by the entrepreneurs, while many generous donors also contribute to their academic pursuit, the letter added.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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March 2020

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