Rights groups urged global buyers, government of Bangladesh and employers to ensure a permanent remedy for the victims of workplace accidents alongside paying compensation, adopting a National Employment Injury Scheme.
In the backdrop of a fire incident at Ideal Textile Mills in Munshiganj on September 20 that killed six workers, the rights advocates also emphasised on establishing a credible labour inspection system and expand the safety inspection from RMG sector to textiles and related industries.
‘Despite the frequent occurrences of employment injury in Bangladesh, there is still no consistent approach or permanent solution to provide remedy for those unable to work after sustaining an injury or for the families left behind when workers are killed,’ Clean Clothes Campaign, the largest alliance of labour unions and non-governmental organisations in the garment industry, said in a press release on Sunday.
It said that the remedial system for worker injury in Bangladesh remained piecemeal, unpredictable and even discriminatory as a legal and institutional framework for compensation is yet to be finalised.
Compensation is often inaccessible for many workers and families affected by smaller factory incidents, which have been ignored or forgotten in the absence of sustained international attention, the CCC observed.
The rights group also urged the global brands to ensure compensation for the victims using the Rana Plaza Arrangement methodology until establishing an employment injury scheme for all workers in Bangladesh.
‘It’s been nearly four years since the Aswad textile factory burned to the ground in Bangladesh, killing and injuring over 50 workers. Tragically, to add insult to injury, their families are still waiting for adequate compensation. Their plight shows why a bridging solution for access to remedy is urgently needed until a full-fledged national system is operational,’ Ineke Zeldenrust, one of the spoke persons of CCC said.
The CCC called upon all brands producing in Bangladesh to sign the new Accord and to list all their suppliers producing garment and textile related products, saying that the tragic fire clearly illustrated the need to expand the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
In a separate statement over the fire incident at Ideal Textile Mills, Human Rights Watch criticised the government’s role over the extension of the EU buyers’ platform Accord.
Under the revised agreement, the Accord can include textile mills under its safety inspections, and management and workers could be trained on safety measures.
‘Instead of rallying around the Bangladesh Accord, the Bangladesh government has protested its extension. Unhelpfully, the government also announced it will begin a “new” initiative on fire and building safety,’ Aruna Kashyap, senior counsel of HRW said in a statement.
She said if the government wants to ensure a credible labour inspectorate, it should at least publish reports on how factories terminated from the Accord and Alliance are faring.
‘Soon, the blame game will begin. Perhaps there’ll be a government-ordered inquiry. Maybe someone will be sent to jail. Then it will be business as usual, and the six workers will join a growing list of those who died in factory tragedies there,’ Aruna said in the statement over the recent fire incident at Ideal Textile Mills.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Apparel