The European Union (EU) is ‘not satisfied’ fully over the progress of the steps taken so far to ensure labor rights, safety and improving working conditions in the vital readymade garment (RMG) sector, said EU Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna on Sunday.
“No, I’m not satisfied. There’s been some progress and lot more needs to be done as we talk about sustained production,” he told reporters after attending a function at Cirdap auditorium in the city.
Care Bangladesh arranged the event, titled ‘Lives beyond Machines - A Reflection on Priorities for Women in the RMG Sector’ under its project Solidarity and Empowerment through education, Motivation and Awareness (SEEMA) funded by the EU.
Country Representative of UN Women Christine Hunter and Care Bangladesh Country Director Jamie Terzi were also present.
Hanna said the RMG sector, with 4 million jobs and Bangladesh’s 60 percent export to the EU market, must ensure sustained production addressing all concerns.
Responding to a question, the EU envoy said change is happening ‘slowly’ and it is very important to keep up the efforts over the next few weeks to present a picture (to the global media) which is a ‘promising one’.
He also said next month, one year after the Rana Plaza building collapse, there will be lot of foreign journalists who will come here and will be asking questions on the progress and steps taken so far.
Hanna also informed that two European Parliament members will also be visiting Bangladesh shortly.
On factory inspection progress, Hanna said, “It’s encouraging that factories are being inspected…there’s a very good story to tell though problems are arising in some cases.”
Responding to another question, he said the journalists coming from abroad will be asking about progress on providing compensation for the Rana Plaza victims. “One thing, they’ll be asking what happened with the compensation? It’s very clear what happened.”
Hanna said the foreign journalists will also be asking about the safety of factories and about the people who produce the goods, and implementation of minimum wage.
“It’s a good thing that the minimum wage has been increased, but it’s not good to hear that it’s not applied (in some factories),” he said.
The EU envoy expressed satisfaction over the registration of a number of unions saying the last few months saw the formation of a good number of union bodies. “There needs some changes in owners’ attitude. The owners have to accept unionism.”
Earlier, speaking as the chief guest, Hanna said women working in the RMG sector should be safe at their workplaces, should be free from harassment and should be well-paid. “We want to make it sure that girls are well-treated.”
He laid emphasis on training for young girls saying bettering training will ultimately bring in better job and better earnings. “We have to work together to that end.”
Jamie Terzi said the women are often not recognized for their contribution. “We’re committed to women’s empowerment. We’ll continue to work together.”
She said they will continue to work for ensuring a dignified life for women in Bangladesh.
EU not happy fully with labor rights, safety in RMG