Current Status of Bangladesh’s Unsafe Garment Factories

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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The purpose of this memorandum is to present findings of the current status of Bangladesh’s unsafe garment factories, key aspects of the response to the catastrophic collapse of Rana Plaza, and relevant stakeholders interested in the issue. There has been significant progress toward building equitable supply chains since international organizations, such as ILO, Accord and IndustriAll Global Union, stepped in. A few national legislative reforms have been approved; workers in Bangladesh’s garment industry are safer while having secured a slightly raised minimum wage and the right to join unions.

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However, there are many more longstanding challenges-safety concerns, child labors, etc, which you should address, in collaboration with help from stakeholders such as the government, labor unions, garment workers, and factory owners.

The garment industry in Bangladesh has grown rapidly over the last few decades became the second largest garment exporter in the world, exporting products to Europe, North America, and Asia, and accounting for 20% of its GDP. Although the industry has contributed significantly to employment creation, poverty alleviation, and the country’s economic growth, it also threatens thousands of workers’ life with a value choosing economic development over human health. There is inadequate regulation from governing bodies, while the global fast fashion phenomenon has worsened working conditions with rapid product cycles. Many Bangladeshi workers are forced to work 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week; 85% of the 4.2 million garment workers are women, and 13% are considered child labor who are aged between 5-14; and, through strikes and negotiations, garment workers have secured a minimum wage of 5,300 takas ($62) per month up from 3,000 takas ($40), which is still not enough to meet their basic needs. , Though inequitable working conditions have long been an issue, it was the collapse of the Rana Plaza building that killed 1,134 people and injured thousands more that finally garnered international media attention reminded the world of unsafe working conditions in the garment supply chain.

The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has established its own National Initiative and adopted new labor laws, while international retailers voluntarily signed up for the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance), bringing together major importers around the world and addressing fire, electrical and structural concerns. 4 By inspecting working environments, monitoring remediation, and implementing training programs, all three parties have helped to create safer working environments for garment workers over the last five years, despite there may be 8,000 more facilities are not regulated under any of the safety arrangements.4 However, The Bangladesh High Court recently issued a restraining order that forced Accord to end its operation and transfer the work to Bangladesh’s new national regulatory program- Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) disregard the preparedness of the latter.6 Alliance is also involved in a legal battle over whether it should continue to work in the country and under what conditions.4

As a specialized agency, the International Labour Organization (ILO) works closely with the GoB, garment workers, employers, and unions to promote decent work environment for every citizen. With continuous feedback from ILO, the GoB has developed the National Occupational Safety and Health Policy (2013), followed by the Bangladesh Labour Act (2013), which includes 87 sections of amendments to protect workers’ rights to an equitable working environment and to improve occupational health and safety conditions. However, the GoB has not ratified the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and apply Recommendation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers; major concerns remain in the garment supply chain.6 To ensure an equitable garment industry in Bangladesh, child labor, gender discrimination, low wages, unequal labor practices, and most importantly, life-threatening safety concerns are still issues that need to be fixed urgently.”

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Current Status of Bangladesh’s Unsafe Garment Factories. (2021, Jun 17). Retrieved from