News Published: Sunday, Jun 09, 2013
10-pint roadmap to overcome RMG crisis
FRIDAY, 31 MAY 2013
AUTHOR / SOURCE: SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
DHAKA, MAY 30: Policy Research Institute, a private think tank, on Thursday outlined a 10-point reform agenda to overcome the crisis prevailing in the country’s RMG sector following the Rana Plaza collapse.
Implementation of the agenda, which makes up the roadmap for sustainable reform, will improve efficiency through better compliance and regulations and enhance the sector’s competitiveness and economic sustainability in the global market. Furthermore, global brands and their consumers will be confident as “Made in Bangladesh” products remain affordable with high quality and being ethically and responsibly sourced, said Ifty Islam, Managing Partner of AT Capital while presenting the key note paper on “Post Rana Reform Roadmap” at a round table conference.
The key issues that outlined in the paper included factory health and safety standards, compliance monitoring, BGMEA responsibilities, unsafe factory relocation, minimum wage increase, trade unions, formation of workers welfare fund, moving up value chain and branding Bangladesh positively.
Commerce Minister GM Quader, who attended the meeting as the chief guest, highly advocated for establishing labour rights and formation of Trade Unions in the country’s redaymade garment (RMG) sector. “There should be 100 per cent Trade Union (TU) in RMG industry to ensure labour rights and improve working conditions,” said the minister.
“There is no alternative to TU….. Trade unions should be allowed to establish the workers’ right, he said adding that they will also look after the compliance issues.
The garment industry, the minister said, is facing tremendous pressure over the workers’ safety issues from both the national and international fronts after the Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza accidents
Regarding the 10-point roadmap, the minister said, it is difficult to implement all of the issues but many of them like being implemented.
We have already close many of the non-compliant factories, the inspectors are monitories the compliance issues regularly, said the minister but he admitted that they are not enough to inspect all the factories. “But moves are on way to improve the situation he added.
Most of the speakers attended the meeting agreed that apparel makers should introduce trade unions to resolve workers’ unrest. They argued that factory owners should remove all the hurdles to forming unions.
Many of them contended that unions would benefit everyone including the owners by increasing productivity and building good image for the country.
Held at a local hotel, the conference was also addressed among others by adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Mashiur Rahman, MCCI president Rokia Afzal Rahman, BGMEA president Atiqul Islam, Employers’ Federation president Md. Fazlul Huq, Mohammadi Group managing director Rubana Huq and Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidericty (BCWS) president Kalpana Akter.
In his address Dr. Mashiur Rahman said that out of eight recommendations made by the ILO Bangladesh rectified many of the clauses accepting as much as seven of the recommendations.
To make the industry more compliant, the adviser urged all, including booth the manufacturers and buyers,
to share the responsibility equally instead of blaming each other.
BGMEA president Atiqul Islam also echoed a similar tone urging all for cooperating BGMEA to overcome the crisis. He also stressed the need for introducing a unified code of conduct for the industry. “We want to work with all buyers Pls give us some time,” said Atiq.
Regarding workers facilities, he said that BGMEA first initiated the directives for the new wage board for declaring the minimum wages for RMG workers. “We will look after each other and thus lead the industry to march ahed..,” said Atiq.
Earlier, BCWS president Kalpana Akter in her address said that workers should be allowed to their rights including freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, working environment and other safety compliances.
“We want decent wage, safe working place and right for labour unions”, said Kalpana adding that it would help us to negotiate with factory management as well as resolve many of the crisis.