Dhaka and Washington have agreed to initiate discussions on an action plan for worker rights and safety in Bangladesh, nearly three months after the Rana Plaza collapse claimed 1,132 lives.
An agreement to this effect was reached following a meeting in Washington on July 25 between United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman and Bangladesh Ambassador to the US Akramul Qader, according to a press statement of USTR office.
“No workers should have to sacrifice their safety or their basic rights in order to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families,” said Froman after the meeting.
“We look forward to renewed and sustained engagement with the Government of Bangladesh and other stakeholders to strengthen worker rights and safety through implementation of the Action Plan and through our coordinated efforts with the European Union and the International Labour Organisation on the recently announced Sustainability Compact.”
It said officials from USTR and the Departments of Labour and State will discuss with officials from Dhaka implementation of the Bangladesh Action Plan, given by the US government on July 19 along with a statement on labour rights and factory safety in Bangladesh.
Implementation of the actions outlined in the plan could provide a basis for US President Barack Obama to consider the reinstatement of the generalised system of preferences for Bangladesh.
On June 27, the trade benefit was suspended due to Bangladesh's “insufficient progress in affording internationally recognized labour rights”.
The suspension becomes effective on September 3.
The July 19 action plan provides a list of measures related to fire and building safety, as well as worker rights in the garment industry, export processing zones, and shrimp sector.