Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Bangladesh and sweat shop labour

In April 2013, the Rana Plaza collapse yet five years on labour advocates concluded that Bangladesh had made little to no progress on the Sustainability Compact commitments. 

Freedom of association was violated in a crackdown on trade unions after spontaneous wage protests in December 2016. Trade unionists were harassed across the country, 34 of them were charged and about 1,600 workers were dismissed. Similarly, the work towards a functioning employment injury insurance scheme has stalled.

he Bangladesh Accord has made important progress in improving factory safety, the government of Bangladesh now suggests it will not allow its successor, the 2018 Transition Accord, to fulfill its role to ensure factory monitoring continues according to rigorous standards until such time that national institutions are up to this task. Indeed, a restraining order was issued by the High Court in Bangladesh on the 2018 Transition Accord. That would mean that after November 30th the Accord could no longer operate. A regulatory gap will endanger the safety of workers, with every chance of reverting back to pre-Rana Plaza conditions. This directly affects European consumers and businesses. If the Accord cannot monitor factory safety, brands would be left with only one responsible option to not knowingly source from unsafe factories: to suspend orders until the Accord can resume.

Bangladesh is the world’s second garment exporter, with four million workers, mainly women, toiling in its industry. The country enjoys trade benefits under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences’ (GSP) most favourable “Everything But Arms” regime , allowing duty- and quota-free access to the EU market on condition of ensuring labour standards. Five years after Rana Plaza, Bangladesh is far removed from doing that. Trade unionists and labour activists have repeatedly called upon the European Commission to take these violations seriously, and start an investigation into whether Bangladesh still meets preferential treatment requirements.

No comments: