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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.