US wants BD to do more for workers protection

US wants BD to do more for workers protection

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Acknowledging Bangladesh’s progress in some important areas, the United States on Wednesday said the government of Bangladesh must do more to ensure protection when workers face intimidation and reprisals for trying to organise. It said all stakeholders in Bangladesh, including the government, employers, and buyers of Bangladeshi products, bear a responsibility for ensuring safe working conditions and those workers have a voice to protect their interests. “To that end, we’re working with all stakeholders to implement the Action Plan we laid out after President Obama suspended Bangladesh’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences program last June,” said joint statement received here from the US Department of State on Wednesday night.The US Department of State, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the US Agency for International Development, and the Department of Labor issued the joint statement on the anniversary of Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. It mentioned that they are also closely coordinating with the European Union and the International Labor Organization (ILO), key partners in a July 2013 Sustainability Compact on worker rights and factory safety in Bangladesh. In the last year, the government of Bangladesh has made progress in some important respects. For example, Bangladesh has allowed over 140 unions to register, permitted re-registration of a leading labor rights non-governmental organization that had been stripped of its registration, agreed to an ambitious plan for safety inspections and factory-level monitoring and remediation across the garment sector in collaboration with the ILO, begun the hiring of new labour inspectors, and conducted preliminary safety inspections. “But there is much more work still to be done. There continue to be concerns about basic worker rights protections under both Bangladesh’s labor law and its special Export Processing Zone law,” it said. The statement cited that the government’s hiring of inspectors is lagging, and the results of inspections need to be made publicly available on an easily accessible database. Addressing these issues would help workers secure safer working conditions and better wages and enable Bangladesh to realise its full economic potential, it said. The collapse of Rana Plaza claimed over 1,100 lives and injured thousands more – the worst industrial disaster in the history of the garment industry. “As we mourn the victims, we are again called to action so that tragedies like Rana Plaza and Tazreen never happen again,” said the statement. – UNB

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