Fantastic progress has been made under the Sustainability Compact, which aims at promoting continuous improvements in labour rights and factory safety in Bangladesh's garment industry, EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon said yesterday.
The next review meeting on the Compact will focus on what needs to be done in the days to come, he said.
This is a very important meeting, he said in response to a question from the news agency while highlighting the three dimensions of the Compact.
The third review meeting of the Compact, launched on July 8, 2013, is scheduled to be held on May 18 in Dhaka.
Focusing on labour rights, Mayaudon said a significant attention was devoted to labour rights since the beginning. He mentioned that they consider a 'genuine, sincere and deliverable' social dialogue is the key to ensure safety and security of workers at workplaces.
“It has now become difficult to imagine that another tragedy of the magnitude of Rana Plaza (collapse) would happen. This is a positive side. It has to be continued. This is an asset.”
He highlighted the progress made in the areas of building and fire safety in the garment industry.
The ambassador mentioned that there has been absence of 'genuine, sincere and deliverable' social dialogue before the Rana Plaza tragedy.
He said such social dialogue through sitting together is effective to find a solution if any problem arises among workers and owners. He gave credit to all partners of the Sustainability Compact—the government of Bangladesh, the EU, the USA, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Canada—for the progress made so far.
He hoped the EU delegation will leave Dhaka after the review meeting with a 'sense of satisfaction'.
Some members of the European Parliament visited Bangladesh on March 27-29 and said the garment sector, which was the focus of their visit, has played an important role in Bangladesh's growth. They noted that there have been improvements in buildings and work place safety since the Rana plaza tragedy four years ago.
The EU is a strong partner of Bangladesh, as reflected in robust trade relations underpinned by the Everything But Arms duty-free market access regime.
Empowerment of millions of women in the garment sector has been one of the successes that came through EU's engagement with Bangladesh, he said.
The European Parliament delegation earlier mentioned that the ILO called on Bangladesh to address four issues: full alignment of the EPZ draft law, Bangladesh Labour Act, with the UN core labour convention modalities for establishing trade unions and the right of trade unions to operate freely.
“It's important that these issues are addressed before May 18 review of the Sustainability Compact and the June annual International Labour Conference of the ILO,” according to an official document.
Mayaudon said the EU-Bangladesh relations have steadily progressed and there will be further progress if both sides combine and continue their efforts.