Other available languages: none
Brussels, 20 October 2014
Statement by Commissioner László Andor on Bangladesh Sustainability Compact follow up meeting
Since the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in 2013, the European Union (EU) has been active to improve labour rights, working conditions and factory safety in the ready-made garment and knitwear industry in the country. Today, in a stocktaking meeting organized in Brussels, we are reviewing the progress made under the Sustainability Compact, an agreement signed by the European Union, Bangladesh, the US and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in July 2013.
There has been much progress since then: labour law has been amended to strengthen freedom of association, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety; new trade unions have been created; more labour, fire and building safety inspections have been carried out.
These are encouraging steps, but we need to advance further. Measures need to be taken urgently to ensure effective enforcement of the Bangladesh Labour Act. Issues requiring particular attention include: better guarantees for freedom of association, protection of workers and trade unions from intimidation or discrimination, and ensuring that all workers have the same rights, including those working in Export Processing Zones. Additional inspectors need to be recruited and inspections must continue. And we need to ensure that victims of the collapse receive all the support necessary for their rehabilitation.
We need to continue to monitor the implementation and results of the Compact. A future review is foreseen next year. The Commission remains fully committed to pursuing its intense cooperation with Compact partners to achieve further tangible improvements. I am convinced that, working together, we can achieve further progress by then.
This issue is not limited to Bangladesh though. It concerns many developing countries and emerging economies. The Commission is fully committed to protecting workers and making workplaces safer all over the world. With this aim, the Commission is cooperating with the ILO and partners to address existing shortcomings in occupational health and safety in the global supply chains. There is broader understanding in other international fora, such as the G20, that further steps are needed to reduce the substantial human and economic costs associated with unsafe workplaces. This is why the G20 Labour Ministers meeting in Melbourne, Australia in September 2014 committed to improving occupational safety and health in their economies and across the globe.
For more information