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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs