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Rana Plaza, two years on

Factory inspector, a challenging but honourable job

Since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse there has been a sustained effort to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the Labour Inspectorate. ILO is supporting this process through its Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector Programme funded by Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Amongst the newly recruited inspectors trained by ILO is 27-year-old Farzana Islam.

Article | 22 April 2015
Farzana Islam, 27-year-old, factory inspector in Dhaka
DHAKA (ILO News) - “I applied for this job when I saw it advertised in the newspaper by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and joined on 24 December 2013. I was mostly inspired by Rana Plaza. I was looking to do something that could help the workers. Most do not know their rights or responsibilities and that’s why I applied.

I have had a lot of training from ILO for example on occupational safety and health. It took at least six months to know how to really do the job, but the training helped a lot.

When we visit factories we have a checklist and we will fill it in with the factory registration number, number of workers, management names, etc. Then we visit the factory floors from top to bottom. We look at fire safety, floor layout and make sure everything is ok.

Female workers are perhaps more happy to speak to me. If during an inspection my male colleagues ask, ‘When was your last holiday?’ they do not get an answer. But if I ask them ‘What is your husband doing? What is your child doing? When was your last holiday?’ Then she will answer that, ‘My last holiday was not a holiday as I had to work late at night.’

When Rana Plaza collapsed there were rules about where the generator could be, but they were not enforced. When I come to renew the factory registration, it is clear that the boiler or generator needs to be on the ground floor or in another shed. If I find there is a boiler on the second or third floor I will not renew the license. It is much stricter now.

When I joined in 2013 it was different. The work capacity and work efficiency was not so high. But now so much has changed. When I first joined, I asked senior colleagues ‘When was your last training?’ and they could not remember. But now if I ask them they say ‘I am so bored of training as I have had so much!’

When a worker calls me and says ‘Farzana I got my salary’ it gives me so much happiness. If there is a violation and the management corrects it, I know I have solved at least one problem."