Rights at work

Trade for Decent Work

Rights at work: Support the Implementation of the Sustainability Compact. A Sustainability Compact to promote continuous improvements in labour rights and factory safety in the Ready Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh was launched on 8 July 2013.


The COVID-19 pandemic has moved rapidly beyond an international health pandemic to heralding a global socio-economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  In addition to the threat to public health, the economic and  social disruption globally, threatens the long-term livelihoods and wellbeing of millions of people. The pandemic has not spared Bangladesh with the socio-economic impacts been felt across the social strata.  The Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment (RMG) industry is one of the main contributors to economic growth, and is the country’s main export industry (81.68% of total export revenue ).  This large contributor of the RMG industry to the country’s export earnings has been possible because RMG products enjoy duty and quota free access to the European Union (EU) markets via the Everything but Arms (EBA) trade preferences. Necessary policy responses and a significant change of governance in terms of labour rights including social protection, sound industrial relations, greater occupational safety and health (OSH) measures and responsible sourcing in the entire RMG supply chain should be in place to ensure the sectors contribution to the economy. The EU's trade relations with Bangladesh and the importance of the RMG industry to the country's development gave the EU a special responsibility to act. Therefore, the “Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labour Rights and Factory Safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh” started in July 2013 to reinforce key interventions in the sector. The Compact is a platform created for the continuous engagement between the Compact Partners (namely; EU, US, Canada and the ILO), to support both short and long-term commitments related to three inter-linked pillars:
  • Respect for labour rights.
  • Occupational safety and health.
  • Promoting the RMG Industry strategy going forward (Post COVID-19) Responsible Business Conduct (RBC)


The overall development objective is the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all, through improved labour relations and working conditions. In Bangladesh, the project will make a direct contribution to the achievement of SDG 8 (promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all). The Specific Objective is to contribute to the effective implementation of the commitments and initiatives outlined in the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, including from 2020 onward focusing on post COVID-19 recovery in the RMG Sector.  In Bangladesh, the current portfolio of RMG will implement the commitments that is through the Bangladesh RMG Cluster. To attain those targets three Intermediate Outcomes have been set, as follows:
  • Promoting respect for labour rights,
  • Promoting occupational health and safety, and
  • Promoting the RMG industry strategy going forward (Post COVID-19). 


  • Support MoLE on the labour law review, to ensure alignment between the BLA and ILS
  • Capacity of MoLE enhanced to report to the ILO Supervisory bodies
  • Adoption of EPZ labour rules
  • Amendment of Bangladesh Labour Rules (BLR), 2015 (1st Amendment)
  • Document NTPA review with recommendations
  • Support DiFE in building credible and accountable labour administration institutions for labour inspection, industrial safety, and dispute resolution
  • Document framework of RBC
  • Support the Tripartite EII committee for the establishment of the EII trial
  • Support Call to action 
The key stakeholders include the Government of Bangladesh, responsible for the implementation of the Compact commitments, employer organizations and the worker unions. The ILO has agreed with the MoLE in proving supports in relation to implementing the action plan provided to the EC EBA mission. The MoLE appreciates the establishment of a regular mechanism of assessment and reporting in the ministry with reference to the assistance provided in 2019 in reporting on Convention 87 and C 98. The DIFE has been pro-active with the project interventions in harmonization between the BLA and the EPZ Act. Employer organizations look forward to the ILO intervention on engaging the stakeholders in establishing a responsible sourcing across the RMG supply chain. Workers have always been active in the assessment, reporting and steering the progress of the thematic pillars.

The beneficiaries of the Compact can be distinguished in two categories, intermediate and ultimate beneficiaries. The direct recipients (intermediate beneficiaries) of support from the Compact services will be, in addition to the Government of Bangladesh, the organizations representing the interests of organized labour and organized business in the participating ports, and the supporting training institutions as follows.  The ultimate beneficiaries of this project are the RMG workers in Bangladesh.


For more information

Implementation of the Bangladesh Compact Technical Status Report May 2018

Sustainability Compact Joint Conclusions-May 2017

Joint Conclusions of the Second Follow-up Meeting on Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, 28 January 2016

Sustainability Compact Technical Status Report 24 April 2015

Outcome document: Bangladesh Sustainability Compact – High-level follow-up meeting 20 October 2014, Brussels

Sustainability Compact statement – Joint Statement July 2013

National Action Plan (NAP) on the Labour Sector of Bangladesh (2021-2026)

Road map of actions to address all the outstanding issues mentioned in the complaint concerning non-observance by Bangladesh of the Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81), Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)