News / Asia

Bangladesh Government, Western Retailers Take Steps to Improve Garment Factories

Bangladesh Government, Western Retailers Take Steps to Improve Garment Factoriesi
X
July 24, 2013 9:10 PM
Recent moves by the government in Bangladesh and western retail companies are leading to changes in the country’s garment industry. On July 15, the Bangladeshi parliament approved legislation aimed at strengthening employees’ rights and improving workplace safety. Meanwhile, Western retail companies have come up with two separate plans to increase building safety. VOA’s Deborah Block looks at how these efforts will affect the clothing industry in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Government, Western Retailers Take Steps to Improve Garment Factories
Deborah Block
Recent moves by the government in Bangladesh and western retail companies are leading to changes in the country’s garment industry. On July 15, the Bangladeshi parliament approved legislation aimed at strengthening employees’ rights and improving workplace safety.

Meanwhile, Western retail companies have come up with two separate plans to increase building safety. It's part of an effort to drastically improve the clothing industry in Bangladesh.

More than 1,100 workers died last April after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh. That touched off intense international pressure to improve garment industry conditions, which led Bangladesh to amend its labor law.

Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the United States, Akramul Qader, said the legislation will strengthen the rights of the country's 4 million garment workers - most of them women.

“Allowing them the formation of unions, pension benefits and other benefits for the workers," said Qader.

Kimberly Elliott, an expert in international trade policy for the Center for Global Development, said the law may help avert another building collapse.

“It does take some steps to try to strengthen the building safety code and to make it more difficult to get a permit to add floors, which was a problem in the Rana building collapse,” she said.

But that can only happen if there are enough inspectors, which Qader admits is a problem since there are at least 5,000 factories, and the government does not know where all of them are located.

“We don’t have enough inspectors to go around. We’re taking different steps now to insure that a good number of inspectors are in place, so that they can go and inspect the factories and submit their reports, and the government can take action,” said Qader.

The law prohibits discrimination based on sex and disability and calls for equal pay for equal work. Factories are required to place 5 percent of profits into an employees’ welfare fund, though that does not apply to the export sector, which includes a large part of the work force.

Elliott said another key provision is that workers no longer need approval from factory owners to form unions.

“There’s provisions to try to avoid a problem that has been a big one in the past of the labor ministry sharing the names of union supporters with management who can then fire them or move them to a different factory, and so that has been changed,” said Elliott.

Critics say factory owners may still be able to create obstacles for unions, however, and the government can end strikes.

The law was passed soon after the U.S. said it was suspending Bangladesh’s trade preferences - though that move is considered symbolic since apparel exported from Bangladesh is not eligible for duty free benefits.  

European retailers recently finalized a plan to accept legal responsibility for safety, and are conducting inspections at their factories in Bangladesh. North American retailers recently announced a separate safety accord that does not hold them liable.

But Elliott said that ultimately it will be up to the Bangladeshi government to push through the improvements to avert another garment building disaster.

"I think a big test for the Bangladeshi government is going to be willingness to enforce, and that has not always been so clear in the past. But I think if the will is there, that will make a huge difference,” she said.

Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment exporter after China. Its textile sector is the largest single money-maker for the country.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs