IT is reassuring to note that safety conditions of factories have improved since the devastating Tazreen Fashion fire incident back on November 24, 2012. The credit for this goes to diligent inspection efforts by the two buyer-sponsored agencies -- Accord and Alliance -- assisted by the government, labour rights organisations and BGMEA. But we have to bear in mind the fact that improvement work is still in its initial stage and a large number of factories remain beyond any form of oversight. Inspection of all factories and at the same time proper functioning of the already safe ones should be ensured to create a failsafe work condition in this vital export sector. Another relevant question is: how far will the oversight system be sustained? So far the oversight work has been done largely due to buyer pressure. The government and all the key stakeholders have to play a concerted role in continuing the oversight operations.
In spite of the improvement, compensation remains a big issue for the victims. They are yet to get recompensed in line with ILO conventions and many injured workers are suffering due to lack of proper treatment. So far only a Dutch buyer has agreed to pay compensation to the victims. We would urge all other buyers that sourced from Tazreen to follow suit. The government and BGMEA also cannot avoid their responsibility in this matter.
The home ministry's investigation termed the huge loss of life in Tazreen as “death by negligence” of the owner. But the culprit is yet to be punished. Labour rights groups have criticised the authority's leniency towards the culprit, Delwar Hossain, who has been set on bail. The same owner has closed down Tuba garments without paying rightful compensation to the workers. The implication is that such denial of justice could only result in more incidents of injustices.
While we welcome the improvements in safety condition it can hardly be overemphasised that the garments manufacturing industry cannot progress without safe working environment and ensuring labour rights and justice.