A corruption watchdog has said the readymade garments industry needs a single authority in the long run for centralized coordination and supervision.
Since the tragic Rana Plaza collapse, the concerted efforts of stakeholders have resulted in considerable progress in ensuring good governance in the apparel industry, but important shortcomings sill remain, officials of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) told a press conference at the TIB office in Dhaka on Thursday.
The press briefing was organized to unveil the findings of a study, “Good Governance in the RMG Sector: Progress and Challenges”, conducted by the anti-graft watchdog.
The research was conducted between May 2017 and March of this year.
TIB Board of Trustee Chairperson Sultana Kamal, Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Senior Program Manager Md Waheed Alam, and Director (research and policy) Mohammad Rafiqul Hassan were present at the event.
Presenting the research findings, TIB Assistant Program Manager Nazmu Huda Mina said 39% of 102 different initiatives, taken by stakeholders since the 2013 industrial disaster, had been implemented, but a whopping 41% of work had not yet been implemented while the remaining 20% of tasks were making slow progress.
The study also found numerous barriers to implementing the projects, including a lack of political will and other issues.
These include the absence of adequate fire service stations and inspectors, inconsistency in the definitions of factory owners and workers in the existing labour law, obstructing workers from forming associations, and harassment of workers by factory owners.
The government has not yet signed the ILO Convention concerning Benefits in the Case of Employment Injury, while the cases filed over the Rana Plaza collapse and 2012 Tajreen Fashion fire are in limbo, according to the TIB research.
There is no safety inspector in 147 RMG factories, and the absence of necessary fire-extinguishing equipment in many high-rise factories also poses significant fire and explosion risks.
Some 400,000 workers lost their jobs as around 1,200 factories were shut down for different reasons following the Rana Plaza disaster that left 1,134 workers dead and countless more maimed, the study reveals.
Speaking of the absence of good governance in RMG factories, Sultana Kamal said: “The measures taken by factory owners are meant to maximize their benefits and safeguard their businesses, not to protect workers’ rights.
“Apart from owners, workers are a big stakeholder of a factory. Therefore, it’s imperative that both parties work for the betterment of the industry.”
In order to ensure good governance in the RMG sector, the study put forward a set of recommendations, including taking measures to properly ensure workers’ benefits enshrined in the labour laws, and quick disposal of cases filed over workplace accidents by turning the existing labour courts into tribunals.