ILO urges Bangladesh to accelerate safety efforts in the garment sector

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The International Labour Organisation on Wednesday urged Bangladesh to complete the remediation process in the garment sector to ensure the safety of workers.

Srinivas Reddy, country director of the UN agency expressed his concern over the safety of garment workers during a garment exporters’ seminar organized by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and The Daily Star.

“Please feel the urgency in the remediation issue and fix the safety issues so the brands and buyers are not in an embarrassing position and have to compromise their brand image,” said Mr Reddy.

He said many factories are already investing in safety improvements on their own.

“I am sure many of you sitting here are doing great work. But you cannot afford some small factory catching a fire or a building collapse. It will be a catastrophe for the sector,” The Daily Star quoted Mr Reddy as saying.

“Respect for labour rights is part of the growth trajectory for it to be socially inclusive and sustainable. Workers have to be made a partner in progress,” he said.

Mr Reddy encouraged factory owners to listen to the viewpoints of their workers and to promote a culture of cooperation.

“I think it is fundamentally very important to move forward the sustainable progress. Promoting the fundamental principles and rights at work all over the world has proven that it is more sustainable, inclusive and it brings prosperity to the people at large and that brings prosperity to Bangladesh at large.”

Just recently, a review of Swedish fashion giant, H&M’s strategic suppliers revealed that severe delays in carrying out urgent and vital building repairs continue to put thousands of workers’ lives at risk.

The report published by The Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Labor Rights Forum, the Maquila Solidarity Network and the Worker Rights Consortium shows that all but one of H&M’s strategic suppliers remain behind schedule in making repairs. In addition, more than fifty percent (50%) of them are still lacking adequate fire exits.

“More than two and a half years into the process of the Bangladesh Accord every single mandated repair at H&M’s suppliers should have already been completed. However, the sad reality is that hardly any of H&M’s supplier factories in Bangladesh can be called safe,” said Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium.

In 2013, more than a thousand garment workers were killed when the Rana Facotry Complex collapsed in Bangladesh.

At the time of the collapse, 3,000 workers were in the building and it was a difficult process for rescuers to locate and retrieve the survivors as well as those who have perished.

It is claimed that building codes were ignored and protections for workers not implemented because of the intense competition to keep overseas contracts by reducing costs.

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