The ready-made garments industry has been one of the main engines of the Bangladesh economy.
Bangladesh’s admirable economic growth, and the recent dynamism of its exporting sector would not be possible without our thriving RMG industry, which sells to major labels all over the world.
But behind the success of the garments industry lies the hard work and dedication of millions of workers, the vast majority of them women.
It was indeed hypocritical of major global brands with long-standing business relationships with Bangladesh to announce a sudden boycott of the Dhaka Apparel Summit, but it is up to all of us to move ahead and constructively address the issue of worker rights.
It is good to see that following a meeting between IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, BGMEA, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment, it was ensured that RMG workers arrested during December’s protests would be released, if they had not been already.
The decision to withdraw charges against these workers was also the right move, and one that will improve our image to the world.
As our RMG sector goes from strength to strength, we must make sure that economic growth and worker rights go hand in hand.
The success of the RMG industry, and indeed the success of Bangladesh as a nation, are inextricably tied to the safety and well-being of the workers who make this success possible.
After the horrific tragedy of Rana Plaza, we vowed never to let such a thing happen again, but there is still a long way to go to ensure that our safety standards are unimpeachable.
If we can do that, nothing will hold us back.