Tuesday, June 25, 2024

$24m safety campaign launched for RMG sector

The government and the International Labour Organisation on Tuesday launched a $24.21 million initiative aimed at improving working conditions in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. The three-and-a-half-year initiative, ‘Improving working conditions in the ready-made garment sector,’ would focus on minimising the threat of fire and building collapse in the apparel industries and on ensuring fundamental rights and safety of workers.
‘We have to build a culture of compliance in the garment sector through this programme as the rapid growth of the garment industry in Bangladesh has raised various problems, including fire and building safety, as well as fundamental rights of workers,’ the finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, said at the programme at the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel addressing as chief guest.
The finance minister said, ‘I hope that the project will definitely make significant contribution towards enduring safe and better working condition in the RMG sector in Bangladesh.’
The labour minister, Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, said that ‘the project would help us to address challenges facing the garment sector and I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to the development partners who have provided support for this initiative.’
The government also initiated some substantive work on occupational safety and health for garment-sector workers and is working with all stakeholders such as buyers, owners, workers and development partners in a collaborated manner, he said.
The foreign minister, Dipu Moni, said that the proper coordination was a must to ensure a sustainable garment industry as three parties –– EU Accord, North American Alliance, and the government and ILO–– are working on fire, electrical and building safety issues.
‘There is a deepening convergence of interests from the global community and Bangladesh to work together in supporting our RMG industry: at least for supporting lives and livelihoods of four million of our people involved with the industry,’ she said.
The ILO deputy director general Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo said that this programme would provide support in implementing the National Tripartite Plan of Action on fire safety and structural integrity.
A successful implementation of the programme will ensure better working conditions and safety for the ready-made garment workers in Bangladesh, he said.
The British high commissioner to Bangladesh, Robert W Gibson, said that this programme was a key part of the approach of the UK to help ensure safe working conditions and improved productivity in the garment sector in Bangladesh.
The Netherlands ambassador to Bangladesh, Gerben Sjoerd de Jong, said that Rana Plaza and Tazreen became the symbols of what was wrong in the RMG sector as the sector grew in an unplanned way in Bangladesh.
The international community came forward to help Bangladesh and it is a chance to get it right, he said.
Sjoerd de Jong urged the government, Alliance and Accord to reach an agreement on common inspection standards and said ‘inspections need to start, no time to lose any more.’
The Netherlands supports this ILO programme because it contains all the crucial elements to make the garment sector safe and sustainable, the ambassador added.
The project has been developed in collaboration with the government and employers and workers’
representatives in response to a number of industrial accidents in the sector, including the Rana Plaza building collapse in April in which more than 1,100 workers died.
The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are giving $15 million to the programme. The ILO is also mobilising further resources.
Before launching the project, the Economic Relation Division secretary, Abul Kalam Azad, on behalf of Bangladesh, Srinivas B Reddy on behalf of the ILO, Sjoerd de Jong on behalf of the Netherlands and Robert W Gibson on behalf of the DFID, signed the agreement.
The programme will provide technical support for building and fire safety assessments, strengthen and support labour, fire and buildings inspections, build occupational safety and health awareness, capacity and systems and provide rehabilitation and skills training for the victims of the disasters at Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions.

-With New Age input

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