At a ceremony held in the BRAC Centre Inn Dhaka on the 20th of July 2014, GIZ, the German Development Cooperation, and the European Union (EU) marked and celebrated four years of their collaboration improving labour standards in the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh.
The project “Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry” (PSES) works to enhance social standards in the RMG sector. PSES is a joint project of the Government of Bangladesh and the Federal German Government and has been working in the field of social standards in the RMG sector as part of the Better Work and Standard (BEST) programmeof the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.The majority of this programme is funded by EU, co-funded by the German Government and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and implemented by GIZ and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).Since July 2010, the initiative aims to strengthen the RMG sectorthrough better compliance with the minimum standards of the Bangladesh LabourLaw 2006. The initiative targets to increase theadherence to international labour and social standards.
Honourable State Minister, Mr. Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) was present on the occasion as the Chief Guest and said, “The EU has been playing an important role in the development of Bangladesh for over four decades and through this project implemented with the German Development Cooperation has played a key role in ensuring the health and safety of workers in the RMG sector.”
The Minister added, “Government of Bangladesh and representatives of Bangladesh employers’ and workers’ organizations have already signed an integrated National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity in the garment sector. In line with the Action Plan, Bangladesh has amended its labour law improving workers’ rights. It has also upgraded its system for inspecting factory safety and begun the recruitment process of hundreds of new inspectors.”
Under this project, a range of activities were undertaken to support the whole industry to be sustainable and responsible. In the course of this, the capacities of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, as well as the Industrial Relations Institutes under MoLE were strengthened. Furthermore, the factory improvement program with BGMEA and BKMEA was supported by PSES. Other activities were the training of factory social compliance officers and master trainers on Social and Environmental Standards as well as the cooperation with NGOs and workers’ representatives.
His Excellency Mr. William Hanna, Ambassador, Head of Delegation to EU in Bangladesh also graced the ceremony and said, “Now we need to ‘stay engaged’ and continue the good work, if the positive changes brought about in the framework of this GIZ-implemented project and of the EU-Bangladesh Sustainability Compact are to become permanent and meaningful. And the message should be loud and clear, in today’s world and tomorrow’s wordl, market access and sustainability go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.”
One of the notable achievements of PSES and its cooperating partners BGMEA and BKMEA was the training of 1.387 social compliance officers, out of whom 304 were female. With four different NGOs, more than 200.000 workers were trained on the labour law and almost 1000 disputes had been resolved. Magnus Schmid, Program Coordinator of PSES during the ceremony remarked, “It is encouraging to note that both national and international organisations are making conscious efforts to improve the working conditions in garment factories. Significant progress has been made in this regard, despite tragedies like the collapse of Rana Plaza. GIZ, through many initiatives of PSES, has been determined to make substantial impact on the social standards of the factories in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. Since 2010, joining hands with EU, this determination has doubled to achieve successful interventions in multiple areas.”