Trade union leaders and workers rights groups called to make the RMG safety progress a sustainable one by increasing national capacity instead of foreign dependency.
They also demanded introduction of injury insurance scheme for workers to ensure proper compensation in case of industrial accidents.
The workers’ leaders and rights activities came up with the demands at a round table discussion titled “Five Years of Rana Plaza Collapse: Experience, Achievement and Ways Forward,” jointly organized by the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (BILS) and The Daily Star in Dhaka on Monday.
“In ensuring a safe workplace for workers, Bangladesh RMG sector has to make the safety progress already achieved by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety sustainable,” said BILS Executive Director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed.
“Standards of fire, electrical and structural safety have seen progress and it is driven by foreign initiatives. In making this progress sustainable, Bangladesh government as well as the industry people have to increase national capacity instead of depending on foreign initiatives,” said Sultan.
“Otherwise, the progress already made cannot be sustained,” he added.
“Bangladesh RMG sector has improved in terms of safety and the sector has gone through a transition in the last five years,” said CPD Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem.
He added: “For the sake of sustaining the progress in safety, we have to institutionalize the experiences of past years and ensure their best use in the future.”
Most of the progress has been in BGMEA and BKMEA factories especially those affiliated with the Accord and Alliance.
“A good number of factories that are under the National Initiative inspection made somewhat less progress,” he said.
He urged the government to complete the inspection of NI factories to make the sector fully compliant.
“To ensure better compensation in case of industrial accidents, introduction of insurance is the better solution,” former Jatiya Sramik League general secretary Roy Ramesh Chandra said.
He said it will also reduce the burden of the owners in paying compensation.
“Both national and international organizations like International Labour Organisation (ILO) have to create initiatives so we can minimize the loss of lives and injuries,” Nazrul Islam Khan, secretary general of BILS, said.
“Besides, labour associations also have to play a key role in ensuring government declared wages and compensation in case of accidents,” he added.
Lawmaker Shirin Akhtar said: “Rana Plaza was one of the biggest incidents in the history of Bangladesh. Now as a country we have emerged strong from that bad moment.”
Rajekujjaman Raton, general secretary of Socialist Labour Front, said: “BGMEA failed utterly to take proper steps after Rana Plaza. The trade body only focuses on their own benefit always. They are not paying good salaries to workers.”
Mohammed Nasir, vice president of BGMEA, said: “We always work for the betterment of workers and after the incident we tried our best.”
Discussants at the round table also urged the government to increase the amount of compensations as well as the current wages for garments workers.