New Worker Safety Initiative Launched in Bangladesh

According to Reuters, a new, independently-governed council has been set up to hold Bangladeshi factory owners accountable for working conditions.

“European fashion brands who buy readymade garments from Bangladesh agreed… to hand over responsibility for issues like worker safety to a new body called the Readymade Sustainability Council (RSC),” which includes the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the brands themselves and workers’ representatives.

Effectively, the council will take over the responsibilities of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which expired in 2018, to “ensure compliance with workplace monitoring” in an industry that accounts for nearly 16 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Per the head of the BGMEA, the RSC represents “an unprecedented national initiative, uniting industry, brands and trade unions to ensure a sustainable solution to carry forward the significant accomplishments made on workplace safety in Bangladesh.”

And while the actual significance of those accomplishments is still debatable, efforts to reestablish the authority of the Accord had stalled in court and the Bangladeshi government had “set up its own body to take over its work,” which didn’t seem promising considering its track record.

In addition to threats against worker safety and prosperity, the council will also address “industrial relations, skill development and environmental standards.” Will it help? Who knows, but it probably can’t hurt.

You can read more about it at Reuters.

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