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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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