Bangladesh has made significant improvements in the working condition at factories as three agencies have been working to plug the loopholes, said Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organisation.
“Since 2013, Bangladesh has come a long way to make its garments industry safer and to improve working conditions. We can be positive about the progress made but the job is not yet finished,” Ryder said.
A great deal of work has been done through the Alliance, Accord and the national initiative to conduct structural assessments of safety and undertake remedial action.
“We must not lose momentum and continue the work until all factories are assessed and work has been completed.”
“That is an ambition the government and ILO share and we are committed to continuing our work with the government to make sure that happens,” Ryder said at a press meet at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday, to mark the end of his four-day visit to Bangladesh.
Ryder has also visited two garment factories on the outskirts of Dhaka to observe the working conditions.
“I was able to visit two factories and have had many conversations with the BGMEA and unions in the sector. Remediation had been done in both,” Ryder said.
He called for developing workers' skills for more productivity, suggesting the involvement of the private sector in formulating the skills development policy.
The ILO chief also suggested holding strong social dialogues to mitigate the industrial disputes and practise good industrial relations.
“It is important to make the workplace safe but I detect a need to encourage employers and workers to work together in a more cooperative relationship,” he said.
“A productive industrial relation is one of the keys to successful development.
I would add there are still some legislative questions on the table. “We have the outstanding issue of export processing zone legislation where we believe as well, that full workers rights need to be ensured. There are other issues, migration is one, child labour is another, but I know these are also areas we are working together.”
If Bangladesh wants a successful and growing apparel sector, it will have to ensure that the sector is safe, he said.
“I will reiterate the importance of the skills agenda as well. And this does not relate to Bangladesh alone, we also have a joint interest in ensuring the good management of migration for work,” Ryder said.
“I believe the international community needs to go a long way to improve the governance of global migration. These are some of the areas where the ILO can contribute to the Bangladesh roadmap for development,” he said.
“We attach a lot of importance to our dialogue with the government to bring about the types of modifications in existing legislation.”