The ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh was hit by several fatal industrial accidents in 2012 and 2013, including the Rana Plaza collapse in April 2013. In response, the ILO Programme on Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector funded by Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom was launched in October 2013.
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest exporter of apparel. The ready-made garment (RMG) industry has made a significant contribution to the country’s social and economic development by providing a primary source of livelihood for over four million workers, mostly women.
However, this remarkable achievement was undermined by industrial accidents that claimed the lives of over 1,200 workers and highlighted the need for a comprehensive effort to enhance workplace safety in the RMG sector.
The ILO RMG programme was initiated to support actions identified in the National Tripartite Plan of Action (NTPA) on Fire Safety & Building Integrity which was developed in close collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh along with employers’ and workers ‘organizations.
The first phase of the programme (October 2013 till June 2017) focused on building and fire safety assessments; labour inspection reforms; awareness on occupational safety and health (OSH); rehabilitation and skills training for Rana Plaza survivors and the launch of Better Work Bangladesh, a partnership between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
To build on the achievements of the first phase, the programme rolled into its second phase in July 2017. The second phase covers four strategic areas which include ensuring factory safety through remediation; governance building to effectively regulate industrial safety and support labour inspection reform; improving OSH in both policy and practice; and expansion of Better Work Bangladesh to ensure compliance in at least 400 RMG factories.
The programme is jointly funded by the Governments of Canada, the Netherlands and United Kingdom.