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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.