US concerned for workers' rights in Bangladesh
The office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has again expressed concern over workers' rights in Bangladesh, especially in the country's readymade garment sector.
“The USTR did not see any progress in workers rights situation in RMG sector. The US government wants to see enforcement of tripartite agreement in the garment sector fully and factory owners and government security agencies should stop intimidation of workers and NGOs for asserting workers' rights,” a letter sent by the USTR to the government said.
Bangladesh will submit a pre-hearing brief next month for which US embassy in Dhaka has already handed over the letter to the foreign ministry, commerce ministry sources said.
The second round public hearing of the USTR is going to be held in October this year to take decision about GSP (generalised system of preference) continuation for Bangladesh.
The first hearing was held on the same issue on October 4, 2007 in Washington where Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus was a witness.
The USTR brought the labour rights issue for public hearing as American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) made an appeal to the USTR alleging that Bangladesh does not comply with labour rights issues and security agency intimidate workers.
Bangladesh's Commercial Counsellor to Washington Kazi Shamsul Alam on July 31 this year met Aaron Rosenberg, deputy assistant of USTR for Labour Affairs, Merideth Joy Sandler, executive director of GSP Programme of USTR, and Victoria Kader, Bangladesh Desk Officer in USTR.
The USTR officials urged Bangladeshi officials to ensure that workers in the EPZ can get assistance from Solidarity Centre and other NGOs, and to clarify the position of the government about how it will eliminate child labour from shrimp processing industry.
The government has appointed Sorini, Samel and Associates as lobbyists to deal with the GSP review process at USTR for the upcoming hearing.