ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific concludes four day mission to Bangladesh

Press release | 02 August 2013

DHAKA – The International Labour Organization (ILO) Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Yoshiteru Uramoto, today concluded a series of meetings with the Bangladesh Government and employers' and workers' organizations in Dhaka, as part of his mission to ILO member states in the region.

It is 100 days since the Rana Plaza building collapse, in which over 1,100 workers lost their lives and many more were injured. Mr. Uramoto said that in response, a major three-year ILO Programme in the country will seek to improve worker rights and safety in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, where 80 per cent of the workers are young women from rural areas.

The Programme and other initiatives by the Government of Bangladesh, employers’ and workers’ organizations, as well as global brands and retailers, aim to address the root causes of the disaster under the framework of the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity in the RMG sector. This includes action to ensure structural integrity assessment by trained engineers of the some 3,500 RMG factories in the country.

Rana Plaza was a terrible tragedy, which is seen as a turning point for the country."
Priority is also given to the recruitment, training and placement of labour inspectors, along with training for mid-level managers and workers on occupational safety and health and labour rights, with a particular emphasis on empowerment of women workers.

Mr. Uramoto said that out of the shock and sadness of Rana Plaza there is an opportunity to take action where it is urgently needed.

Speaking about his meetings, Mr. Uramoto said, “it has been an excellent opportunity to talk with our tripartite partners and has underscored the constructive working relationship between the ILO and the Government, employers and workers in Bangladesh.”

During the four days, Mr. Uramoto met with the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, the Labour; Foreign; Economic Relations; and Commerce Secretaries, the Presidents of the BEF, BGMEA, BKMEA. He also had the opportunity to meet and exchange views with Bangladeshi trade unions, including the NCCWE and IBC. [1]

Mr. Uramoto said, “Rana Plaza was a terrible tragedy, which is seen as a turning point for the country. The Government and employers’ and workers’ organizations agree that urgent action is needed to secure the safety and integrity of all RMG factories and to promote workers’ rights in Bangladesh.”

The ILO Regional Director also met with the Ambassadors of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway and representatives of EU missions, as well as the High-Commissioner of Canada and the UN Resident Coordinator, who all expressed their support for improving working conditions in the garment sector in Bangladesh.

Summing up his mission, Mr. Uramoto said, “Bangladesh is a strong and vibrant country and with growth at around 6 per cent, it is one of the most dynamic emerging economies in Asia. This growth has to be sustainable however, with the benefits felt by all through decent jobs, wages and working conditions. The social capital earned through sound industrial relations will help ensure sustained growth in the country.”

“I believe that social dialogue through tripartism can greatly enhance industrial relations with respect to workers’ rights, including freedom of association and collective bargaining for all workers in Bangladesh,” he added.

[1] BEF (Bangladesh Employers Federation), BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, BKMEA (Bangladesh Knitware Manufacturers and Exporters Association), NCCWE (National Coordination Committee for Workers' Education) and IBC (IndustriALL Bangladesh Council).