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Report on RMG worker safety condition and BGMEA reaction

Bangladeshi RMG workers have been suffering from unsafe working conditions for a long time. It’s true that the condition is much better than earlier time but still they are unsafe conditions. A recent study report of USA-based New York University’s Stern Centre for Business and Human Rights has said that millions of people working in the readymade garment industry of Bangladesh still face unsafe conditions. The report, also said that Bangladesh has more factories engaged in the global RMG business than stated by its industry. After that Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has rejected outright the report officially by a press conference at BGMEA.

The findings of US organization came at a time when Accord and Alliance’s safety inspections have reportedly indicated that most of the RMG factories in Bangladesh are maintaining ‘stringent’ safety standards laid down by the Western retailers’ bodies. According to the report, Bangladesh’s US$25 billion garment industry has been suffering from safety problems since the 2013 collapse of a complex, the Rana Plaza, in which more than 1,100 people were killed. Thousands of factories have been undergoing inspections and dozens closed over safety concerns. But at many functioning factories, employees fall outside the purview of those improvements, the report said. It said, more than 7,000 factories in Bangladesh are producing goods for the global fashion business, nearly double the 3,600 exporting factories that the BGMEA operates. Many of those are small- and medium-sized factories, the workers of which indirectly produce goods for foreign brands through larger factories.

The apex trade body of apparel industry, BGMEA, termed the report “confusing” as it failed to distinguish local manufacturers from the export-oriented ones. BGMEA also expressed concern that the report will cast shadow on the RMG sector. It also said the data shown in the study titled – Beyond the Tip of Iceberg: Bangladesh’s forgotten Apparel Workers – do not match with the real data. The apparel trade body mentioned that there are more than 7,000 garment factories in Bangladesh contributing to global fashion industry, 65% more than previous estimate. Obviously, the report is “confusing” as it included all factories in the study, BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman told reporters at the media briefing on immediate reaction to the report. Refusing the allegation of unauthorized sub-contracts, Siddiqur said there is no such deal, and BGMEA and buyers do not allow any illegal sub-contracts.

As we are ahead of a new year and we are hoping to get more retune from RMG, industry we will have to look at the condition of our RMG workers.They are an essential part of our national economy. Wish we will see the better condition in this New Year 2016!

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