The European Union has released a ‘Technical Progress Report’ on Bangladesh readymade garment (RMG) sector titled “Staying Engaged – A Sustainability Compact for continuous improvements in labour rights and factory safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh”.
The report has been released exactly a year after the EU took action through a Sustainability Compact, in response to the tragic loss of life when the Rana Plaza complex collapsed, to promote better labour rights and more responsible supply chain management in garment manufacturing in Bangladesh.
The latest report published by the European Commission reviews progress made and outlines steps that still need to be taken. The report will be used as a basis for discussions in a follow-up stocktaking exercise in Brussels, to which key stakeholders will be invited.
In a joint statement, European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor said, “We welcome the serious commitment to deliver marked progress. We commend those foreign retailers who did stay engaged in Bangladesh. As a matter of priority, we also urge the Government of Bangladesh to complete the labour law reform, training and recruitment of inspectors and to create the conditions for meaningful freedom of association. Better labour conditions will support sustainable trade links with many markets, especially the European Union.”
The new report states that Bangladesh has made much progress since the launch of the Compact on 8 July 2013, including amendments to the labour law to strengthen fundamental rights at work, such as certain aspects of freedom of association and collective bargaining. New trade unions have been established and intense training and capacity building of various stakeholders has taken place.
“Despite these notable achievements, workers are just beginning to see the resulting tangible improvements in working conditions and respect for their rights. More must be done to ensure safety and health at work as well as freedom of association and collective bargaining must continue to improve. Inspections of buildings also must continue and should be swiftly followed by remediation measures to ensure safety and health of workers at work,” states the report.
“The RMG sector in Bangladesh is the focal point for improvements of labour rights and labour conditions in Bangladesh. As the country continues to consolidate its position as a garment manufacturer and exporter, it is bound to pay much more attention to sustainability concerns than ever before. By the same token, foreign companies are working differently through their global supply chains and paying more attention to responsible business practices. With these two dynamics working in parallel and provided the commitment to better work is unchanged, the memory and dignity of the persons who perished in the Rana Plaza disaster will be upheld,” the report concludes.