Voicing satisfaction over the progress, US Ambassador Dan W Mozena has said the remaining non-inspected RMG factories need to be inspected to agreed standards soonest to safeguard against another Rana Plaza or Tazreen Fashions calamity in Bangladesh.
“Although the Alliance and Accord have completed inspections of their source factories, thousands of other factories have yet to be inspected for safety,” he said.
The US diplomat made the remark while delivering his remark at the Sustainability Compact review meeting held in Brussels recently, according to the US Embassy in Dhaka.
Mozena said a growing and prosperous apparel industry is the key to Bangladesh’s progress, and such growth is possible only when Bangladesh transforms the apparel industry, as charted in both the Sustainability Compact and the GSP Action Plan.
Listing the progress made so far, the diplomat said, “I doubt two years ago anyone in this room had anticipated such steps. I think Bangladesh and all stakeholders can take pride in these achievements.”
He, however, said no one should be complacent for the achievements as ‘critical steps’ remain to transform the apparel sector as envisioned in the Sustainability Compact and, earlier, the GSP Action Plan.
Mozena said disputes between management and workers are inevitable in an industry consisting of thousands of factories. “Such disputes must be dealt with transparently and effectively in real time.”
He also said threats and violence related to workplace issues are unacceptable, and such acts must be addressed expeditiously through the criminal justice system.
The labor law reforms of 2006 and 2013 were helpful in addressing some labor concerns, but the implementing rules and regulations to materialize these reforms have yet to be issued, Mozena said adding that this important shortfall should be resolved immediately.
The US diplomat also said laws, policies, rules and regulations governing the EPZs should be modified to ensure that workers in the EPZs have effectively the same rights as workers outside the EPZs to associate freely, organize unions, and engage in collective bargaining without fear of dismissal, intimidation or harassment from management.
“As you can see, these are critically important challenges, but each can be overcome, provided there is sufficient will from the owners and government to do so. I hope all stakeholders will engage earnestly and quickly to address and resolve these issues as soon as possible,” he added.
Mozena urged Bangladesh to move expeditiously to advance and complete the sector’s transformation. “Bangladesh can count on the continued support of America in this endeavor.”
Transformation of RMG sector key to progress: Mozena