Towards a safer garment industry in Bangladesh
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Towards a safer garment industry in Bangladesh

On 24 April 2013, the garment factory building "Rana Plaza" collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring 2,500. One year after the global garment industry's worst-ever industrial accident, the ILO together with the Government of Bangladesh, employers, trade unions and the international community are working together to make sure it never happens again.

It was not about an accident in one building. It was about an issue that had severe implications for many countries, particularly Europe and the United States. It was about global governance, global rules and regulations."

Rana Plaza: Never again
It was a wake up call heard around the world, and significant steps are being taken to address the root causes of the Rana Plaza disaster to ensure Bangladesh's garment industry can provide jobs in a safe working environment for its employees.

Compensating the victims

  1. The Rana Plaza Arrangement

    The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, for which the ILO acts as neutral chair, oversees the implementation of the Arrangement to pay the victims and their families and dependents.

ILO in action

  1. Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector (RMGP)

    An ILO led three-year programme comprising:

    1. Building and Fire Safety Assessment
    2. Strengthen Labour Inspection & Support Fire and Building Inspection
    3. Build Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) awareness, capacity and systems
    4. Rehabilitation and skills training for victims

  2. Promoting Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in Bangladesh (FPRW)

    Project to build local capacity in relation to freedom of association and collective bargaining.


The garment industry in Bangladesh
In 20 years Bangladesh has become one of the main exporters of ready-made garments. In 2011 Bangladesh accounted for 4.8 per cent of global apparel exports, versus only 0.6 per cent in 1990. Over the same period, total exports increased from around 5 per cent of Bangladesh's GDP in 1990 to over 23 per cent in 2011.
As the garment industry expanded, employment in manufacturing doubled from 12 per cent in 1985–86 to 24 per cent in 2010. The share of ready-made garments in Bangladeshi exports has more than doubled, reaching 80 per cent in 2008–09. The destination is mainly the United States and key Eurozone countries. In 2010–11, the Eurozone alone accounted for more than half of the total Bangladeshi exports, followed by the United States (28.9 per cent), the United Kingdom (11.4 per cent) and Canada (5.5 per cent). The growth in the last two decades has created jobs, but with tough working conditions and low pay, including in export-related industries. The incidence of informal employment increased from 75 per cent in 1999/00 to 87 per cent in 2010 – the highest in the region. Bangladeshi workers earn some of the lowest wages in the world. As of August 2013, the monthly minimum wage for entry-level workers in Bangladesh’s garment sector was US$ 39 per month – about half of the lowest applicable rate in other major garment-exporting countries, such as Cambodia (US$80), India (US$71), Pakistan (US$79), Sri Lanka (US$73) and Viet Nam (US$78). To keep up with the global competition the country has tried to reduce the formalities to start and operate a business. In fact, it can take longer to obtain an electrical connection than to get an approval for a  factory plant. 24 November 2012:  Tazreen Fashion Factory caught fire, killing at least 112 garment workers. In response to the Tazreen fire, a National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety is developped in the ready-made garment (RMG) Sector of    Bangladesh. The ILO assists in the implementation and coordination of the plan which outlines three areas of work: 1) Policy and legislation, 2) Administrative, 3) Practical activities. 24 April 2013: Rana Plaza building collapses, killing  more than 1,100 workers and injured 2,500.  One of the worst industrial disasters on record.
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