Slow progress in fixing safety faults in the readymade garment factories inspected under national initiative and extension of the tenure of buyers-led initiatives Accord and Alliance would be high on agenda in the 4th Sustainability Compact review scheduled for June 25-26 in Brussels.
According to government high officials, labour rights issue, effective follow-up inspections and remediation in all the country’s active export-oriented RMG factories, including their subcontracting factories and inspection of the factories which have yet to undergo inspection for structural, fire and electrical safety are the other priority agenda to be discussed in the annual follow-up meeting.
They said that Bangladesh might face question over the poor remediation progress in the factories inspected under national initiative and the capability of Remediation Coordination Cell.
In the meeting, Bangladesh has to submit a time-bound proposal for completing remediation in the factories inspected under national initiative.
An 18-member Bangladesh delegation, led by commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, will attend the meeting.
Most of the delegation members, including state minister for labour Md Mujibul Haque, already left on Saturday to attend the meeting while commerce minister is scheduled to leave Monday.
Following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013, that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, the European Union together with Bangladesh, the US and the ILO forged the Sustainability Compact in July 2013 to improve labour rights and factory safety in the country’s RMG industry. Canada subsequently joined the Compact in January 2016.
The compact partners in a pre-review discussion held on June 20 at Dhaka expressed their dissatisfaction over the slow progress in fixing safety faults in the national initiative-listed factories, a meeting source said.
According to the sources, the compact partners also expressed dissatisfaction over the government stance in extending time frame of Accord and Alliance.
The high level group, based in Dhaka, comprising three secretaries (labour, commerce and foreign) of the government of Bangladesh five ambassadors (EU, US, Canada, the UK and an EU member state on a rotating basis) and ILO regularly reviews progress in the implementation of the Compact.
One of the high officials of the labour ministry said that they already made a significant progress in terms of labour rights in line with the ILO and Compact requirements and Bangladesh would present the progress in the review.
‘We are in process to amend the labour law and EPZ act in line with the ILO standard and we have already announced that we’ll address the concerns of ILO and Compact partners related to freedom of association, collective bargaining, membership threshold to register trade union and anti-union discrimination,’ he said.
On June 20, state minister for labour Mujibul Haque in a meeting with the garment factory owners extended dateline for completing remediation up to December.
The minister will make commitment to the Compact review that the remediation work in the factories inspected under national initiative would be completed by December this year.
Earlier, the state minister told New Age that the government decided to allow labour inspection in conformity with the labour law in factories located in Bangladesh’s eight export processing zones to address the ILO concerns.
He said that the workers’ representation requirement for trade union registration was also set to be reduced to 20 per cent from the existing 30 per cent for factories both in and outside the EPZs.