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Bangladesh | Brussels, 24 April 2014

Rana Plaza tragedy – one year on: Statement by John Clancy, Spokesperson of EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht

On this day, one year ago, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh took a heavy toll of more than 1100 lives. The tragedy revealed serious shortcomings in the occupational safety and labour rights of Bangladeshi workers in the export-oriented ready-made garment industry. It had to be a turning point for safety and labour issues in Bangladesh.

The EU, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the authorities of Bangladesh responded to the tragedy by launching an initiative known as the Sustainability Compact, joined by the US at a later stage. The Sustainability Compact outlines concrete commitments. The actions that stem from them lead to improved levels of occupational safety and health and promote responsible business conduct and greater respect of labour rights, with a particular focus on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

We’ve seen significant progress in these areas over past months but more must be done. Substantial progress on labour issues is important for Bangladesh's continued preferential access to the EU market. The EU remains ready to assist Bangladesh with its reforms and monitors the implementation of the Sustainability Compact. We will have a fuller assessment of the Sustainability Compact’s achievements on its first anniversary in July this year.

For further information

About Sustainability Compact

Joint Statement by HR/VP Catherine Ashton and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht following the building collapse in Bangladesh

Joint Statement by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni