Updates on textile and apparel industry workers safety

Bangladesh on track after Rana Plaza: EU

Bangladesh has made significant improvement in safety standards and workers’ rights in the aftermath of Rana Plaza building collapse, a top official of the European Union said on 29th October. ‘Things are moving in the right direction. Some are going fast and some are going slow, but we are glad to note that everything is going in the right direction,’ he told The press, asking not to be named. The first review of the progress under the compact took place in Brussels on October 20, and the official was close to the proceedings in the Belgian capital. He said the country has made progress in most of the 16 aspects of the Sustainability Compact.The government amended the labour law a week after the signing of the compact in Brussels on July 8 last year, a move which went down well with the EU, he said. For more see The Daily Star, 30-10-2014

Alliance, Texas Univ. team up on RMG training review

The Alliance has teamed up with the University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston to conduct an independent assessment of the former’s basic fire safety training for readymade garment (RMG) workers in Bangladesh. The North American apparel retailers’ group has contracted the University and the project team will be led by Dr Hasanat Alamgir, a University of Texas (UT) School of Public Health associate professor for occupational health at the Program in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. For more see Financial Express, 24-10-2014

WB stresses continuous efforts to reform garment sector

Bangladesh must continue its efforts to reform the garment industry to boost higher exports, World Bank said on 21st October. ‘Progress in improving workplace compliance is on track but more needs to be done in order to fulfill the commitment of raising it to international standards,’ WB said in a report, Bangladesh Development Update. ‘Safety compliance is improving. Only 2.2 percent of total buildings assessed thus far have been referred to a government review panel for structural issues and only 1.3 percent was partially or fully closed, the WB said. For more see The Daily Star, 22-10-2014

H&M urges BD to raise garment workers’ pay

Sweden-based global apparel brand Hennes&Mauritz AB (H&M) has requested Bangladesh to keep on increasing wages for workers annually to adjust the inflation that increases cost of living. The request was made when H&M CEO Karl-Johan Perrson called on Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed in Dhaka, said a statement issued by the global brand. Karl said the absence of efficient systems of cost control is leaving both workers and business owners in a difficult situation. Therefore, a continued wage development through annual revisions based on cost price index is necessary, said the statement. H&M also encouraged the Government of Bangladesh to address the issue of cost regulation, on for example rent and basic commodities, the company said the statement. For more see Daily observer, 18-10-2014

Pran-RFL recruits Tuba jobless skilled workers

The Pran-RFL Group has recruited most of the workers of the five factories of Tuba Group who lost jobs in recent times after the company declared all its units closed. Chorka Textile, a sister concern of the Pran-RFL Group, has recruited most of the Tuba workers. ‘We have recruited almost all the workers of the five garment factories of the Tuba Group’, Kamruzzaman Kamal, director of the PRAN-RFL Group, a leading food processing and plastic manufacturer, told the press. For more see Financial Express, 21-10-2014

EU retailers urged not to pull out of Bangladesh apparel sector

A senior European Commission official has urged the retailers and brands to stay engaged in Bangladesh and not to pull out orders from the small and medium factories, employing 1.5 million workers. Director (GSP) of the DG Trade of the European Commission, Sanda Gallina, made the call in her closing statement in an outcome document titled “Implementation Review and Stock Taking of Progress”.

The document also urged early adoption of rules and regulations for Bangladesh Labour Act with highest priority, including rules on unfair labour practice, implementation of National Tripartite Plan of Action (NAP), enactment of Export Processing Zones (EPZ) Act and further improvement of freedom of associations and collective bargaining in EPZs. On that day, the European Union, the United States, Bangladesh and ILO met in Brussels in order to take stock of the progress on the actions outlined in the Sustainability Compact adopted on July 8 last year. For more see Dhaka Tribune, 22-10-2014

BGMEA to organize 3 day summit

With an aim to enjoy a solid growth in exports and creating positive image of the country’s apparel sector globally, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is going to arrange a 3-day Apparel Summit in Dhaka on December next. Scheduled to be kicked off on December 7 next, the event titled ‘Bangladesh RMG 2021’ would be the alternative to BATEXPO, the traditional luxuries exposition of BGMEA, as the association is thinking to hold such exposition in a wider way with the participation of the international stakeholders and experts. For more see Daily Sun, 09-10-2014

ILO wants VAT waiver for RMG factory inspection fund

The International LabourOrganisation has urged the government to waive around $1 million value-added tax generated from the spending on a project involving the readymade garment factory inspection, officials said.

The ILO made the appeal to the finance ministry through the labour and employment ministry saying that development partners were giving $7.5 million for the purpose of factory inspection. But they are not willing to pay the VAT, said the officials quoting the letter. For more see New Age, 19-10-2014

Bangladesh home textile sector faces negative growth in first 2 month of FY2014-15

Bangladesh home textile sector faces negative growth during the first two months of the current fiscal year 2014-15. The major factors which count for blocking the growth of country’s potential home textile exports are European Union GSP facility for Pakistan, appreciation of the local currency against the US dollar and recent political turmoil. The industry fetched $115.99 million in July-August period of the current fiscal, showing a 0.79 per cent negative growth compared to the same period of last fiscal, as per the data of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). In the just-concluded fiscal year 2013-14, the country received $792.53 million from home-textile exports. The figure was $791.52 million in FY 2012-13. For more see YNFX, 09-10-2014

Global brands team up to make Bangladeshi factories environment-friendly

Leading apparel and footwear buyers and retailers, who source from Bangladesh, have teamed up to make the country’s factories environmentally sound as part of a global initiative. They have come together under the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme, which aims to help lead the industries towards lowering discharge of such chemicals by 2020. The ZDHC programme signatory brands include Adidas, Benetton, Burberry, C&A, Esprit, G-Star Raw, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Jack Wolfskin, Levi Strauss, L Brands, Li Ning, M&S, New Balance Athletic Shoe, NIKE, PUMA and PVH Corp. For more see The Daily Star, 28-09-2014

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