May 4, 2019, Dhaka
Better Work Bangladesh (BWB) facilitated a high-level workshop to discuss the progress under the third pillar of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact – Responsible Business Conduct – with participants discussing ways to ensure the future sustainability of the Bangladesh RMG industry.
The Government of Bangladesh, led by the Ministry of Commerce, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) held a high-level meeting in Dhaka on 30 April 2019 to look at the need for ongoing responsible and efficient business practices in the country’s $30-billion Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry.
The meeting was chaired by the Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Mofizul Islam and Mr.Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, ILO Bangladesh and brought together 40 stakeholders from the RMG supply chain in Bangladesh.
Participants included representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a host of international brands and retailers and members of the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
High on the agenda was progress under the third pillar of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact – Responsible Business Conduct – with participants discussing ways to ensure the future sustainability of the Bangladesh RMG industry.
The Compact is a landmark RMG compliance-monitoring framework that was rolled out after the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013. It comprises of three pillars to promote continuous improvements in labour rights, workplace health and safety and responsible business conduct in the sector.
The Bangladesh government, the European Union, the United States, Canada and the ILO, accompanied by employers, trade unions and other key stakeholders are all partners of the Compact.
“The Government is firmly committed to the Sustainability Compact and the welfare of millions of RMG workers. To date, we have already seen increased wages, greater presence of the trade unions and improved workplace rights. We must continue to improve these responsible practices because the economy of this country depends heavily on RMG exports,” said Commerce Secretary, Mr Mofizul Islam.
The workshop recognized the pressing need to move from a traditional supply chain model to a fully integrated one and to make the necessary investments in capability and efficiency in order to future-proof the industry against competition from other RMG producing countries.
There were also calls from employer representatives for the need to review the current pricing model to better ensure the industry can commit to decent work and productive employment.
Many delegates also stressed the need for greater transparency along the entire supply chain to improve purchasing practices. A number of participants also called for the need to avoid audit duplication and replace existing multiple factory audits with a single, universally recognised assessment.
“Experience from other countries has shown that the ability of a garment producing country to rise up through the value chain depends on a number of factors, including close collaboration with brands, factories and the government, decent infrastructure and public services,” said Tuomo Poutiainen, ILO Country Director for Bangladesh. “This sector can only grow with greater transparency and stronger governance.”
Better Work Bangladesh aims to boost the competitiveness of the garment industry by improving compliance with Bangladesh’s 2006 Labour law and the ILO’s core labour standards, leading to better working conditions and enhanced economic performance at the enterprise level in eight countries around the world.
The programme reaches 485,708 workers in 210 factories who work with 22 international brands.