EU warns BD again not to exploit RMG workers for sustaining GSP

Dhaka,  Mon,  26 June 2017
Published : 16 Jun 2017, 00:28:03
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EU warns BD again not to exploit RMG workers for sustaining GSP

FE Report


The European Union has once again warned Bangladesh to step up its efforts in preventing workers exploitation in the garment sector mainly to sustain the privileged market access there under the Generalised Scheme of Preference (GSP).

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), in a resolution adopted Wednesday, said textile workers in Bangladesh, many of whom are young women, suffer long working hours; low wages, uncertainty and hazardous conditions and trade union leaders are often persecuted.

The European parliament adopted the resolution tabled by its Committee on International Trade (INTA) on "The State-of-Play of the implementation of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh", an EU-driven initiative to strengthen labour rights and safety at work in the readymade garment sector of Bangladesh.

"I have done all I can as chair of the INTA monitoring group for South Asia to get Bangladesh to comply. It seems they are not listening. We cannot keep issuing appeals and statements every year - we have to see tangible results on the ground for privileged market access to be continued," Standing rapporteur for South Asia , Sajjad Karim said in a statement.

"EU trade policy is our soft power," he said, adding that "but it's very powerful and based on values, meaning we demand our trading partners respect core principles in the areas of human, labour and environmental rights."

Quoting INTA chair Bernd Lange the statement said: "Despite some progress in recent years, the situation on the ground remains worrisome. We are very concerned about the lack of meaningful progress in implementing the commitments of the Sustainability Compact by Bangladesh."

Countries, which disrespect fundamental rights at work, should not be encouraged by benefitting from unrestricted access to our market, he said, adding that the government of Bangladesh will need to demonstrate that it is willing and able to deliver on its own promises and the demands of the international community.

In the resolution, INTA members expressed concerns over the lack of progress in a number of areas of the Sustainability Compact such as amending labour laws for guaranteeing the freedom of association and collective bargaining and in improving safety and working conditions and workers' rights in the garment sector.

The European Commission in a recent letter to the Bangladesh government shared these concerns highlighting the need to do more to align Bangladeshi laws and practice with the recommendations of the ILO.

The government of Bangladesh should swiftly amend the 2013 Labour Act so as to ensure freedom of association, collective bargaining and to recruit more factory inspectors, the resolution suggested.

The mandate of the Accord, a platform including EU companies that help implement the Compact, should be renewed after its expiry of May 2018 and international brands ought to take their CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy more seriously to ensure decent working conditions.

The other recommendations included that the EU Commission should table an EU-wide legislative initiative on the garment sector for a due diligence system.

    munni_fe@yahoo.com
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