Australia is one of the development partners of the Better Work Bangladesh program, supporting since 2016. Recently they along with ILO have toned up the support to uplift the RMG sector of Bangladesh.
The Better Work Bangladesh program (BWB) is a partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), aims to contribute to improving the lives of the workers, their families and their communities, and increase the competitiveness of the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh.
The aim is to ensure a production-friendly environment by providing workers safety and potential competition of the ready-made garment sector. 485,708 workers in 210 factories who work with 22 international brands have affiliated with this program so far.
During her visit to Bangladesh, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Dr. Sharman Stone, said, “Our commitment to funding this program until June 2020 demonstrates Australia’s support for industrial safety, labor law governance and women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh.”
In Bangladesh, women have just seven percent of supervisory roles, through their participation in the workforce is remarkably more than men.
“With the support of the Australian Government, we will continue to bridge the gender gap in leadership positions and create opportunities for women in the readymade garment sector – the backbone of Bangladesh’s economy.”
BWB strengthens the process of women empowerment, reduction of sexual harassment and gender pay gap through promoting direct participation in worker-management bodies.
As per the Australian High Commission, some 196,185 workers voted to elect 1,121 workers’ representatives, 42 percent of whom are women, in BWB-affiliated factories. And some 78 safety committees were formed, with 207 out of 586 representatives being women.
This program conducts feasible changes to workplace safety and sustainable progress in the garment industry.
“Alignment of the Bangladesh Government, unions and employer organizations with the ILO supported Remediation Coordination Cell, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance-backed Nirapon initiative, will strengthen the garment industry,” said Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Julia Niblett.
“The ILO is proud to be working with the Australian Government who share our vision of uniting multiple stakeholders, promoting decent work for all and helping the garment industry in Bangladesh thrive. Better Work has made measurable impacts in the lives of millions of workers and their families,” said ILO Bangladesh Country Director Tuomo Poutiainen.
“Now the challenge is to broaden our impact further. It is only by pooling our efforts and our expertise that we can create lasting, transformative change in the industry,” Tuomo Poutiainen added.
IFC is committed to this partnership with ILO to promote career progression for female sewing operators through GEAR, Better Work’s new training program.
“With the support of the Australian Government, we will continue to bridge the gender gap in leadership positions and create opportunities for women in the readymade garment sector – the backbone of Bangladesh’s economy,” said IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Wendy Werner.
Affiliated factories with BWB have successively improved compliance with ILO core labor standards and national legislation covering compensation, contracts, occupational safety and health and working time.