US outlines steps for GSP restoration
The US Trade Representative's Office on Friday outlined a series of steps that it asked Bangladesh to take to improve factory conditions and workers rights in order to have US trade benefits restored.
"Today, the administration is making this action plan public as a means to reinforce and support the efforts of all international stakeholders to promote improved worker rights and worker safety in Bangladesh," the trade office said in a statement.
It said the US was "also pleased to associate itself with" a compact developed between the European Union, Bangladesh and the International Labour Organisation to improve working conditions in the country.
The Obama administration suspended Bangladesh's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility on June 27 to press the country to address worker safety.
Rana Plaza collapse in April killed 1,132 workers in what was the deadliest incident in the history of the global garment industry.
The collapse came just months after 112 Bangladesh workers died in a fire at another garment factory, Tazreen Fashions Ltd.
The suspension underlines the lack of progress by the government in improving factory conditions.
“I have determined that it is appropriate to suspend Bangladesh’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP programme because it is not taking steps to afford internationally recognised worker rights,” US President Barack Obama said in a message to the Congress on the very day when the GSP facility was suspended.
At the time of the suspension, the Obama administration provided Bangladeshi officials with an action plan that, if implemented, could be the basis for Obama to reinstate the trade preferences. On Friday, the administration made the action plan public to reinforce all international efforts to improve worker rights and safety in Bangladesh.
The plan calls for increasing the number of labour, fire and building inspectors and modifying labour laws related to collective bargaining and discrimination against union members.
The more than a dozen measures in the plan include setting up a hotline for workers to anonymously report fire and building hazards and violations of worker rights, and regulations to prohibit workers from being blacklisted for labour activities.
On July 15, Bangladesh government passed an amended labour law that allows full freedom for trade unionism in the industries in the awake of suspension of GSP facility.