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Deal to protect garment workers

ANGER: Bangladeshi activists
and relatives of the victims
of the Rana Plaza building
collapse protest
ANGER: Bangladeshi activists and relatives of the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse protest



BANGLADESH will extend an agree­ment to protect garment workers and embed it into national regulations, promising more stringent safety checks for its four million apparel workers, a labour union said.

Poor working conditions and low wages have long been a concern in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which suffered one of the worst industrial accidents in 2013, when more than 1,100 people were killed in the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex.

The Bangladesh Accord is a legally-binding agreement between global brands and trade unions to establish a fire and safety programme for the coun­try’s $28 billion a year textile industry.

The accord runs to May 2018, but the government has agreed for it to continue beyond that date until a national regula­tory body is ready to take over monitor­ing, a trade union said on Tuesday (31).

“A goal of the accord has always been to transition to a credible regulatory re­gime by the Bangladeshi government,” said Christy Hoffman, deputy general secretary of Uni Global Union.

“The talks with the government show that it recognises the importance of a safe ready-made garment industry, and we will continue to work with regulators to help enhance their capacity.” The new agreement was reached on October 19 between brands, trade unions, the Bang­ladesh Garment Manufacturers and Ex­porters Association, the UN’s Interna­tional Labour Organisation and the Bang­ladeshi government, said a statement from the Accord.

Under the accord, more than 118,500 fire, electrical and structural hazards have been identified at 1,800 factories which supply at least 200 brands. Boiler room inspections will be included in the pro­gramme following concerns after a blast in July which killed 10 workers.

“At present, we are working out how we can fund the inspections, remediation and technical expertise needed,” Hoff­man said. The programme will also estab­lish safety committees on factory floors as mandated by law to ensure better moni­toring of safety features, Hoffman said.

Earlier this month, trade unions wel­comed a ruling allowing complaints to proceed against two global fashion brands for allegedly violating the Bangla­desh Accord.

The cases will be the first under the ac­cord to be judged by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)