News / Economy

    Bangladesh Tells EU it Will Boost Worker Rights, Inspections

    ILO Director-General Guy Ryder (L), EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni attend a meeting in Geneva with employee, industry and employer representatives focused on agreeing on ways to improve trade and sustainable development in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh, July 8, 2013.
    ILO Director-General Guy Ryder (L), EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni attend a meeting in Geneva with employee, industry and employer representatives focused on agreeing on ways to improve trade and sustainable development in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh, July 8, 2013.
    Reuters
    Bangladesh pledged on Monday to quickly boost worker rights and recruit more factory inspectors as it seeks to preserve European Union trade benefits after 1,129 workers were killed in the collapse of a garment plant in April.

    The EU, which gives preferential access to Bangladeshi garments, has threatened punitive measures to press Dhaka to improve worker safety standards after the collapse of the illegally built Rana Plaza factory.

    Instead, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht launched a “sustainability compact” at a meeting with Bangladesh officials, who committed to enacting a new labor law by the end of 2013 and increasing the factory inspectorate by 200 staff to 800.

    “We have a carrot and a stick but I prefer to use the carrot,” he said. “We want to help the Bangladeshi people, not to punish them.”

    The EU said it would reallocate funds to help rehabilitate those permanently disabled in the Rana Plaza collapse and extend technical assistance to improve labor standards in Bangladesh and other impoverished countries in the region.

    Tax concessions offered by Western countries and the low wages paid by the manufacturers have helped to turn Bangladesh's garment exports into a $19 billion annual industry, with 60 percent of the clothes going to Europe.

    In late June, U.S. President Barack Obama cut off U.S. trade benefits for Bangladesh in a mostly symbolic response to conditions in the country's garment sector, given that clothing is not eligible for U.S. duty cuts.

    De Gucht said the United States was considering whether to join the compact announced on Monday.

    Meanwhile, a group of North American-based apparel retailers and trade associations plans to announce its own Bangladesh garment worker safety plan in Washington on Wednesday. Details of that plan were not immediately available, but the group said it includes “comprehensive and measurable actions.”

    Earlier on Monday, a group of mainly European retailers announced they had finalized a plan to promote worker safety through coordinated inspections. But many U.S. retailers have shunned the deal, proposing instead a non-binding initiative.

    Stay Engaged

    The EU imported roughly 9.2 billion euros ($11.8 billion) of goods from Bangladesh last year, with textiles from clothing to towels and bedding accounting for almost 93 percent, corresponding to some 2.5 million jobs, mostly held by women.

    Bangladesh receives duty-free access to EU markets under a program known as the globalized scheme of preferences (GSP), designed to help developing countries grow through trade. The country has the most generous level of GSP.

    De Gucht said Bangladesh should not take that for granted and the EU could still consider action if there was “insufficient progress for Bangladeshi workers.”

    Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said parliament would reconvene soon to adopt a new labor law. The bill will make it easier to form trade unions. Workers can now form a union only with permission of the factory owner.

    “We realize in the wake of the recent tragedies our friends ... expect us to deliver fast. Please do bear with us and stay engaged in Bangladesh,” Moni said.

    But the minister also hit out at brands which she said continued to raise retail prices while squeezing suppliers.

    “Some leading buyers are still quietly pressing for lower prices,” she said. “How do we ensure fair pricing? The demand side must also come forward on delivering their part.”

    In the compact, the EU and Bangladesh welcomed the European-led plan, while urging all retailers and brands adopt a unified code of conduct to audit factories.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.9030
    JPY
    USD
    102.41
    GBP
    USD
    0.7470
    CAD
    USD
    1.3038
    INR
    USD
    67.919

    Rates may not be current.