Enough of statements, let's get down to work
European diplomats take part in a discussion with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, at Westin Hotel in Dhaka yesterday. The BGMEA briefed diplomats and buyers on the current state of the garment industry. Photo: Star
Top European Union diplomats yesterday called for visible actions, rather than promises, towards improving the workplace safety and labour rights at the country's garment factories.
The Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 that has so far killed 1,131 and injured thousands has shocked the world due to the scale of its ruin, said William Hanna, head of EU delegation to Bangladesh.
“This is something that has had a big impact all over the world.”
“It is a general and emotional concern what is happening in the country -- people want to see a change,” Hanna said.
Therefore, the EU wants to work with the stakeholders to make it happen, he said.
“We want to work together to avoid any problem in future. But that means real work, not just statements -- real commitment.”
Hanna's comments came after a closed-door meeting with garment industry leaders organised by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, to brief diplomats and buyers about the current state of the sector.
He said the recent commitments made by the government to ensure a better work environment for the garment workers is a “turning point”.
The new labour law, he says, is crucial. “A new law is underway in parliament, which is vital as it will help the International Labour Organisation introduce the Better Work Programme in Bangladesh.”
Meanwhile, Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, urged the foreign buyers to make a unified code of conduct for the country's garment factories.
“Most buyers now issue different codes of conduct for maintaining factories compliance, which create problems for us. We have to take measures separately by taking into consideration the individual needs of the buyers.”
The BGMEA president also called for a buyers' association consisting of representatives from retailers who buy apparel from Bangladesh, for enhanced communication.
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Gibson and French Ambassador to Bangladesh Michel Trinquier were also present.