Update January 31, 2016

Dhaka 5-54 pm, 17-October, 2021

EU discussion over Bangladesh RMG workers held

Sumel Sarker

Flags of the European Union member states

EU discussion over Bangladesh RMG workers held

31 January 2015, Nirapad News: The representatives of the EU, US, Canada, Bangladesh and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – partners committed to the so-called Bangladesh Sustainability Compact – assessed the progress and set priorities for further work to improve situation of Bangladeshi textile workers.

The meeting, held in Dhaka on January 28, was also an opportunity for an open dialogue with stakeholders including
trade unions, NGOs, buyers and employers.

The initiative born in the aftermath of the tragic factory collapses in 2013 has brought about some tangible
progress, said a press release.

According to the release, Bangladesh government has put in place a legal framework for labor protection that has now
to be effectively implemented. Also, important work has been done on initial safety inspections in factories and to
strengthen capacity of inspection services.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said, “Promoting responsible supply chains is an important part of our new
trade and investment strategy.

The respect of human and core labour rights are at the heart of our engagement with countries getting privileged
access to the EU market.

The Compact cooperation shows that we can team up with other concerned partners and work towards bringing about
positive change. We are committed to taking this joint work forward in several areas in the coming months”.

EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Mobility Marianne Thyssen said, “The progress achieved so far proves that initiatives like the Bangladesh Compact can be effective in promoting genuine social dialogue and decent working conditions in the global context. While aiming for more fairness in global supply chains, we must also continue to encourage essential reforms”.

The priorities for further work singled out by the participants of today’s meeting include tackling issues related to
registration of trade unions, ensuring appropriate investigation and prosecution of unfair labour practices and
ensuring that workers can freely elect their representatives at factory level consistently with ILO conventions.

Workers in Export Processing Zones should also have commensurate rights to those of the workers outside these zones.

On the safety side, the joint conclusions point to the importance of practical measures and repairs that need to be
carried out in the factories.

Partners will also continue supporting the Bangladeshi authorities in building capacity necessary for an effective
supervision of occupational safety and health conditions, electrical safety and structural integrity of buildings and
work in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders.

The parties warmly welcomed Canada as a new partner to the Compact and reaffirmed their commitment. The work will now continue and the next progress review is planned in a year time.

Background

In reaction to the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April 2013, the Government of Bangladesh, the International
Labour Organisation (ILO), the European Union and the United States launched a joint initiative known as the “Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labour Rights and Factory Safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh”.

Given its involvement in the same supply chains and its own efforts to promote sustainable sourcing, Canada decided to join the initiative as of 2016.

The Compact outlines concrete commitments in respect of labour rights, in particular freedom of association and the
right to collective bargaining, as well as structural integrity off factory buildings, occupational safety and
health, and promotion of responsible business conduct.

The European Commission has been working closely with the other Compact partners to translate its commitments into tangible improvements. To this aim, the Commission hosted in October 2014 the first Compact follow-up meeting and released two technical reports, in July 2014 and April 2015.

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