Pressure grows on apparel sector for compliance
Garment entrepreneurs should make their factories eco-friendly and compliant not only to restore the industry's shattered image but also to ensure a working condition that respects workers' rights and saves lives.
The call came at a seminar -- Eco-friendly and compliant factory: a pre-condition for future business -- at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.
Srinivas Reddy, country director of International Labour Organisation (ILO), said manufacturers should not see the issue of labour compliance as a cost issue.
“Rather, they should look at it as an investment that pays back later, increases productivity and saves lives."He also reminded brands about their roles so that their sourcing practices do not lead to non-compliance in the country. "They need to promote compliance.”
Reddy said since the collapse of Rana Plaza there has been an unprecedented amount of commitments from local and global partners for improving labour standards and factory conditions in Bangladesh.
"The matter of coordination of actions then becomes a challenge," he said, while calling for development of sustainable partnership among all stakeholders. Reddy assured that ILO stands ready to help Bangladesh solve the challenges the country is now facing.
"We also want to give out a message to the international community that the country respects compliance and standards and can take care of the challenges it is facing today."
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said the government has been working actively with its international partners such as the US and the European Union since the collapse of Rana Plaza.
"In our engagement with them, we have been forthright, objective and transparent, no matter how unpleasant the facts are."
"As a result, it is being recognised that the government of Bangladesh is trying its best to deliver on its promises despite various challenges,” she said.
The minister called upon all stakeholders involved in the garment trade value chain to carry out their parts to promote compliance.
Dipu Moni also said manufacturers would have to ensure a decent job and environment and human rights of the workers, as the world is asking about various compliance issues at the factory level.
Toufiq Ali, chief executive of Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre, said the country's garment entrepreneurs would have to build on their success taking into account the fast changing global scenario.
He also said Bangladesh would have to develop standard in association with international institutions that sets the benchmark.
During his presentation, Syed Ferhat Anwar, a professor of Institute of Business Administration, Dhaka University, called for coordination among all parties and to stop the blame-game that invariably takes place when a tragedy strikes.
Nishat Shahid Chowdhury, deputy programme manager of Bangladesh Water Pact Programme of International Finance Corporation, said if the country's textile sector becomes eco-friendly the wastage and the consumption of water by the vast sector would go down tremendously.
Mrinal Sircar, programme manager of IFC, said eco-friendly and compliant factories are essential for the sector to survive and grow. "We need a business eco-system that complements natural system."
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association organised the discussion on the last day of its three-day BATEXPO programme.
Mikail Shipar, labour secretary, Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute, Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, were also present.