Dhaka, Apr 26 (UNB) – Five years of Rana Plaza tragedy, the RMG sector has experienced significant progress towards establishing good governance, having completed a number of initiatives, while almost as many are in the process of being implemented, and a significant number have not witnessed any progress, or even if they have, it is very slow.
TIB revealed their findings at a press conference held to launch a research report titled “Good Governance in RMG Sector: Progress and Challenges” in its Dhanmondi office.
The corruption watchdog counts 102 such initiatives – of which 40 were implemented completely, 42 are still in progress, and 20 are stagnant or in slow progress.
According to the research conducted from May 2017 to May 2018, integrated initiatives of key stakeholders have made significant progress in various challenges including factory safety, monitoring, labour wage, and increasing capacity of government organizations.
But there are still legal limitations in ensuring labour right while the government has not yet signed the ILO convention (121) regarding workers’ compensation, said the report.
Despite of integrated initiative of government and buyers, progress in labour safety was not seen as expected in about 982 factories (32 percent).
While in term of reconstructing factories, the dominant tendency to avoid responsibility is visible among both the government and buyers.
After the Rana Plaza tragedy, around 400,000 workers lost their jobs as around 1200 RMG factories were sealed.
The research also found information relating to irregularities in small and sub-contracting, factories including not paying minimum wage, cutting wage out of the rules, making the labors work four hours of overtime instead of two hours, in many cases making them work for over time of 5-6 hours and so on.
It also found information of illegal money transition of Tk10,000 to Tk15,000 against some officials of labor department during trade union registration.
On the other hand, in the recently published list of top 100 loan defaulters, 26 organizations are in RMG sector which is creating risk in country’s economy.
The organization also came up with eight recommendations including forming long term single authority for monitoring and coordinating governance in the sector.
According to their recommendations, integrated initiatives of key stakeholders needed to ensure labor rights including minimum wage and right to form union, a fund need to be formed with the participation of the key stakeholders to ensure compliance of small and subcontract factories, quick trialed of the cases filed on different accidents is needed and should be settled as soon as possible through transforming labour courts into tribunals. ,
Launching the report, TIB’s Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, said, though the sector saw an overall progress, but there are still many challenges to address. The workers are not being benefitted by the progress. Though owners agree on labor rights on paper, in reality, while talking about the implementation, deficit in their mentality about labor right is observed.
“On the other hand, concerned government organizations saw infrastructural development but lacks in implementation”, he said.
Advocate Sultana Kamal said, owners are working for increasing export and profit, not for the interest of their workers.
Stressing on building a workers friendly environment in RMG sector, she said, because of the deficit of mentality about labor right among the owners, the sector is still lacking in good governance.
Director of TIB Research and Policy department Mohammad Rafiqul Hassan, Senior Programme Manager Md Wahid Alam were also present at the conference among others while Assistant Programme manager Nazmul Huda Mina presented the research report.