Private initiatives encouraged for safer RMG factories

20 May 2017, 20:13


Dhaka: The partners of the Sustainability Compact have encouraged private initiatives to remain engaged with the government and renew their commitments to work for safer RMG factories in Bangladesh during the coming years.

Recognising the critical role that the RMG sector plays in the country's development, they expressed their continued commitment to the people of Bangladesh, including through supporting responsible business conduct.

The initiative, called Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, was born in the aftermath of the tragic factory collapse in 2013 which claimed 1,129 lives.

The 'joint conclusions' shared by the European Commission (Trade) on recently held third follow-up meeting on the Sustainability Compact mentioned that the Compact partners took note the government of Bangladesh's planned strategies to achieve the goals of the compact and will continue to review and assess progress together in the coming years.

The partners of the Sustainability Compact are the government of Bangladesh, the European Union (EU), the United States of America (USA), Canada, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The partners recognised the urgent need to begin inclusive consultations towards the amendment of the Bangladesh Labour Act (BLA) and associated regulations to address the conclusions and recommendations of the ILO's supervisory bodies.

They noted that the draft EPZ labor law has been withdrawn for further review and the Tripartite Consultative Council (TCC) tasked with proposing reforms to the BLA.

They reaffirmed the need to ensure that workers in the EPZs enjoy freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, according to the European Commission document seen by UNB.

The partners recognised the urgent need for promoting responsible business conduct (RBC). They encourage brands and retailers to adopt RBC practices and a uniform code of conduct for factory audits in Bangladesh.

They agreed on the need for the National Initiative, the Accord, and the Alliance to commence where not started and advance remediation work.

The meeting held here on May 18 recognised progress made in several areas of the Compact including recent increase in trade union registrations in Dhaka Division and work towards the development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to better process applications for trade union registration.

They also noted the introduction of the concept of workplace cooperation and building a culture of occupational safety and health.

The partners stressed that adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination is amongst the main element of a conducive and enabling environment for freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The stakeholders also stressed that criminal complaints pending against the social partners concerned need to be reviewed urgently to ensure due process of law.