• David Sharp
  • 17 November 2015

Improving working conditions in the ready-made garment sector

The ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh has experienced rapid growth since 1980 and is currently ranked as one of the top exporters in the world. The RMG industry has provided employment for approximately three and a half million workers and made a substantial contribution to the economy. However this growth is shadowed by the lack of safety and the industrial accidents which happen in these factories.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) Programme on Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector has been developed to address safety concerns. This programme is based on the Joint Tripartite Statement by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB), employers and the workers and has been designed in line with the priorities set in the Sixth Five Year Plan (SFYP 2011-2016) of Bangladesh, which recognised the urgent need for job creation.

The programme has been drawn up in collaboration with the Government on Bangladesh, workers and employers and is jointly funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Department for International Development (DFID)-United Kingdom.

1,475 RMG factories were assessed through government efforts supported by the ILO with the backing of Canada, the Netherlands and United Kingdom. A further 2,185 factories were inspected by the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

Mr Srinivas Reddy, ILO Bangladesh Country Director said, “Carrying out these inspections is a significant milestone yet it is only the beginning. Our full attention must now turn to remediation. ILO will help build the capacity of the Bangladesh authorities to put in place an effective system for all remediation and regulatory oversight once the support of partners ends,”

“We appeal to employers organisations to actively work with factory management to produce corrective action plans for remediation. This is in the best interest of worker safety and will also give confidence to the buyer community,” he added.