DHAKA – The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and the International Labour Organization today launched a major initiative – including a new Better Work programme – aimed at improving working conditions in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh.
The three-and-a-half year initiative, ‘Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector’ – (RMGP) focuses on minimizing the threat of fire and building collapse in ready-made garment factories and on ensuring the rights and safety of workers.
It has been developed in collaboration with government, employers’ and workers’ representatives, in response to a number of industrial accidents in the sector, including the Rana Plaza building collapse in April, in which more than 1,100 workers died.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are jointly contributing US$15 million to the US$24.21 million programme. The ILO is mobilizing further resources.
The RMG programme will provide technical support to building and fire safety assessments; strengthen and support labour, fire and building inspections; build occupational safety and health awareness, capacity and systems and provide rehabilitation and skills training for the victims of Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions, where 112 workers died in a fire in November 2012.
It compliments other initiatives to improve safety in RMG factories such as the Sustainability Compact adopted by the European Union, Bangladesh Government and the United States, and supported by the ILO; the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which comprises global unions, brands and retailers, and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which brings together North American retailers and brands.
As part of the new programme, the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) also announced the launch of a Better Work programme in Bangladesh. This will complement the RMG programme by implementing factory-level activities to improve compliance with national labour laws and respect for international core labour standards, while promoting the competitiveness of participating factories.
Better Work Bangladesh will be funded by the governments of Switzerland and the United States, and through the RMG programme by the governments of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The Better Work global programme is funded by the governments of Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland.