Dhaka, Dec 13 (UNB) - The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety says readymade garment factories affiliated with it have made remarkable headway in improving safety over the last five years.
“Maintaining this progress must remain an ongoing effort-and for our member brands, it will remain a top priority long beyond the Alliance’s departure,” Alliance Executive Director Jim Moriarty was quoted as saying in a statement released on Thursday.
Alliance unveiled its fifth and final annual report on Thursday.
US Ambassador Earl R Miller appreciated the achievement, saying Washington would continue to “strongly support” the brands’ efforts to monitor safety and empower workers in their factories.
“With this work, the Alliance has set a standard for the industry to follow in Bangladesh,” he said.
Alliance is a legally binding, five-year commitment to improve safety in Bangladeshi RMG factories, one of two signed with foreign buyers. While Alliance is maintained with North American (mostly US, Canada) buyers, the other, Accord is with European buyers.
It was organised in 2013 after the collapse of the Rana Plaza in which over 1,000 people – mostly RMG workers – were killed. The incident took place only 5 months after a deadly fire at the Tazreen Fashions garment factory left over 100 people dead.
Alliance announced the near completion of factory safety improvements as well as the full execution of its fire safety training and 24-hour worker helpline to over 1.5 million workers in Alliance-affiliated factories.
“With an ecosystem of safety now in place, the Alliance is transitioning its widely renowned training program and helpline to local partners who will continue both and expand them to additional factories throughout Bangladesh,” the media statement read.
It said most Alliance member brands planned to work through a locally-based organisation to collectively monitor safety standards, training execution and helpline promotion in the factories from which they source. Consistency in the level of safety, achieved under the Alliance, will remain a requirement of these brands.
Highlights from Alliance report
-- 93 percent remediation across Alliance-affiliated factories is complete;
-- 428 factories completed all material items in their initial Corrective Action Plans;
-- Nearly 1.6 million workers have been trained to protect themselves in case of a fire emergency. Alliance has developed local training partners to expand the training beyond Alliance-affiliated factories;
-- 28,000 security guards have been trained in fire safety and emergency evacuation procedures;
-- More than 1.5 million workers now have access to a 24-hour confidential helpline. It will soon be available to RMG factories throughout Bangladesh;
-- 181 worker safety committees have been formed
Dhaka, Oct 15 (UNB) – Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Monday accused the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) of spreading false and distorted information about the newly announced minimum wage for workers to create ‘instability’ in the country.
BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman came up with the allegation at a press conference at the BGMEA Bhaban conference room.
He alleged that the National Garment Workers Federation has been spreading fabricated and false information through leaflets that the basic wage of workers has not been raised in the announced structure to divert all’s attention to a different direction.
Siddiqur Rahman claimed that the federation’s leaflets compared the minimum wage between 1994 and 2006 tactfully avoiding that of 2013.
“The federation also stated that the percentage of 7th grade workers is 3-5 while the actual number is 20 percent of the total workers which is supported by a study conducted by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD),” he said.
The BGMEA chief said the wage of workers has been increased by 381.35 percent though export and demand in the RMG sector decreased after 2014 that saw around 1,200 local factories to shut down in the past four years.
“We’ve accepted the new minimum wage fixed by the wage board despite various adversities. It’s a matter of sorrow that a vested quarter of labour leaders and NGOs is trying to create instability in the country by spreading propaganda and instigating workers,” he said.
Mentioning that nearly 1 crore people are employed in the RMG sector, Siddiqur said the spread of such instigating information will send a wrong message to the foreign countries and damage the country’s image.
Dhaka, Sep 9 (UNB) – From an emergency general meeting on Sunday, country’s export-oriented readymade garment (RMG) factory owners urged the government to give an ‘exit plan’ for RMG units which want to leave the business for non-viability.
RMG owners also demanded the government to introduce inflation-based yearly wage increase system on permanent basis instead of the existing system of raising wage in every 5-year by forming a commission.
“We want adjustment in the workers’ wage keeping in line with rate of inflation”, said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) and a former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He was addressing the emergency general meeting of the RMG factory owners held at the BGMEA’s Nurul Kader Auditorium in the city under the joint aegis of BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA)—the two main representative bodies in the country’s RMG sector.
“We’ll call for an exit plan for those who want to leave the garment business”, he added.
Most of the speakers severely criticised the civil society members and NGO leaders for their advocacy in favour of garment workers’ wage hike in seminars and TV talk shows.
Some civil society members and NGOs are involved in conspiracy to destroy the country’s garment sector, they alleged.
The FBCCI chief was echoed by other speakers at the meeting held against the backdrop a perception that the government might move to declare the minimum wage as per wage commission’s recommendations. The commission was formed in January this year.
With BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman in the chair, the meeting was also addressed, among others, by BGMEA’s former leader and present ruling party lawmaker Tipu Munshi, BKMEA president and Jatiya Party lawmaker Selim Osman, garment businessman Atiqul Islam, Wage Commission member Arshad Jalam Dipu, BGMEA vice president SM Mannan Kochi and former Dhaka Chamber president Asif Ibrahim.
Siddiqur Rahman said that he would pursue the government to accept their demands.
He mentioned that in the wage commission, the BGMEA has proposed the minimum wage to be Tk 6360 while the labour leaders have proposed it at Tk 12020.
He said although BGMEA proposed the minimum wage at Tk 6360, for many factory owners it would be hard to implement it.
The last minimum wage was Tk 5,300 declared in 2013.
Tipu Munshi said the time is not in favour of garment industries as the general election time is nearing and the government feels pressure to announce the new wage for the garment workers.
Atiqul Islam said the factory owners already raised 20 percent wages of the workers at different forms while they have to spend extra money at the government offices at every stage of their business in exporting goods.
“But buyers never want to increase their prices of the goods”, he said.
BGMEA leader Ehsan Fazle Shamim said the organisation should do more to improve efficiency of the workers as two workers gets $175 a month to run a machine in Bangladesh while one worker in Vietnam runs same and gets $160.
Dhaka, Aug 30 (UNB) – In Bangladesh’s readymade garments (RMG) sector, 97.5 percent factories don’t have trade unions.
A comprehensive survey on RMG sector conducted by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) also found out that the workers’ organisations continue to remain in either weak or non-functional in the garment factories.
CPD research director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem led the team that conducted the survey by collecting data from 3,856 factories having 3.6 million workers. Of the factories, about 50 percent are found to be small, 42.5 percent are medium and 7.4 percent are large.
The survey report was presented at a seminar titled: “Conference on Transformation in the RMG Sector in Post-Rana Plaza Period” at a hotel in the city on Thursday.
While presided over the inaugural session of the seminar, CPD Chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan, said that a global consultation is required for social improvement of the RMG workers who should be given the most credits for success of the garment sector.
He said the government and parliament can play the vital role for the improvement of the situation by ensuring the sharing of profit for the garment workers as there is now prevailing an unfair and unjust situation.
He said that one-third of the parliament members are garment owners but added that he does not know how many trade union leaders are parliament members from the RMG sector.
He said Rana Plaza incident was a result of the severe competition of the local factories to sustain in the global market.
He urged Saber Hossain Chowdhury, the president of the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) and also a member of the current parliament and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Ministry of Textile and Jute to pursue the issue to draw the global attention for social improvement of the garment workers.
Speaking at the seminar as chief guest Saber Hossain Chowdhury said Rana-plaza incident was a wake-up call for the RMG sector. “But now we don’t want a second wake-up call”.
He said the RMG sector has done exceptionally well in the post-Rana Plaza period. But the garment owners and government have to be pro-active to do better. “We have to take the future challenges to achieve the $50 billion export target by 2021”.
FBCCI president Shafiul Islam Mohidddin admitted that there is lack of trade union activities in the RMG sector but said that workers welfare committees in the factories are working to protect the interest of the workers.
He said 70 percent profit in the RMG sector is taken away by the brands and buyers for which local factory owners always remain under pressure to sustain in the global competition.
He said in the post-Rana Plaza period most of the factories were transformed into compliance factories while now owners are trying to convert them into green factories.
He mentioned that about 1200 factories had to face closure in the post-Rana Plaza period.
The FBCCI chief said the factories should allow the trade unions as Bangladesh signed the ILO convention.
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre president advocate Montu Ghosh said all the elements of the RMG sector is imported from abroad except the men and machines.
He said the factory owners have no attention to improve the working and social condition of the workers.
“Most of the workers are subjected to rough behavior of top management in the RMG sector”, he alleged.
He said the government formed a wage commission about 5 years ago but the report has not been published yet.
He also urged the FBCCI chief to play an active role to reinstate the terminated workers in Tongi area for which garment workers staged demonstration in Uttara area.
Dhaka, July 25 (UNB) – Bangladesh has invited German manufacturers to invest more in the country taking the advantages its offers.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam discussed the issue with outgoing German Ambassador in Dhaka Dr Thomas Prinz on Wednesday.
He mentioned that Bangladesh if not the best place, it is a better place to invest, said the Foreign Ministry here.
German Ambassador informed that Siemens is going to make a huge investment in Payra Port for production of LNG based electricity.
State Minister hoped that German company would not only produce goods but also enhance knowledge base and transfer technology to Bangladesh.
Shahriar thanked the outgoing Ambassador for his constructive role in developing the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Germany from where they launched broad-based partnership ranging from trade and investment to the implementation of sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Ambassador Prinz praised the bold leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government for giving shelter to the Rohingya people who escaped atrocities in Myanmar.
He also lauded the generous attitude of Bangladeshi people towards the Rohingya people.
In reply, State Minister briefed the present situation in Rohingya camps and initiatives taken by government to cope up the natural calamities during this rainy season.
He also thanked the German government for its continuous support in crisis management and in political process top insure sustainable return of the Rohingya people top their ancestral home in Rakhine state.
State Minister expressed satisfaction at the implementation of the commitment of the Prime Minister regarding engagement of Veridos GmbH in the e-passport project.
He wished the German diplomat success and good health; and requested him to act as goodwill ambassador of Bangladesh wherever he goes.