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Bangladesh | Brussels, 20 October 2014

Labour rights and safety in Bangladeshi textile industry – the Commission publishes joint conclusions on progress of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact

Since July 2013 the ready-made garment and knitwear industry in Bangladesh has made significant progress to ensure labour rights and factory safety, but a lot of work still remains to be done. That was the main conclusion of a review of progress achieved by the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact between the European Commission, Bangladesh, the United States, and the International Labour Organisation.

The Compact Partners launched the initiative in July 2013 in response to the Rana Plaza building collapse tragedy that took more than 1,100 lives and left over 2,500 workers injured in April 2013.

The outcome document summarises the discussions with participation of stakeholders held in Brussels on 20 October 2014:

Significant progress

The situation has improved in Bangladesh since April 2013 when the Rana Plaza building housing a number of garment factories collapsed. The labour law has been amended to strengthen freedom of association, collective bargaining and occupational safety and health. As of September 2014, 340 new trade unions have been created, factory inspection services have been given more resources and 1,800 inspections have been carried out, with the help of unprecedented private sector initiatives. A national occupational safety and health policy has been created and all major garment and knitwear factories have been centrally listed. Responsible business initiatives from the private sector are better coordinated, and regular meetings are held between Compact Partners and donors.

Further progress needed

Despite these achievements, further progress is necessary in many areas. The Bangladesh Labour Act should be effectively enforced through necessary implementing rules and regulations, and more efforts are required to ensure that the respect for labour rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining are upheld, including for workers in the Export Processing Zones. The establishment and registration of trade unions must be made easier both in law and in practice and measures need to be taken to address anti-union discrimination, harassment and intimidation. In addition a number of measures are required in relation to the structural integrity of buildings and occupational safety and health, including in relation to factory inspections and the recruitment of inspectors.

Staying Engaged

The Compact Partners will continue to follow implementation of the Compact and delivery against the actions outlined in the outcome document, in coordination with other donors and stakeholders. This will include a further review against these commitments in 2015.