What is encouraging to see is the maturity with which BGMEA has responded to the criticism
The RMG sector’s contribution to Bangladesh’s economy cannot be understated: The $30 billion industry -- as of FY2017-18 -- that employs almost four million Bangladeshis, the vast majority of whom are women, has been one of the primary driving forces behind our sustained development over the last decade or so.
Of course, the industry remains far from perfect. By way of illustration, a recent report by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has claimed that workers in the sector are making 26% less than what they should be making despite increases in pay, amongst other criticisms and concerns.
Now, we do not offer an opinion on the veracity or the accuracy of the TIB claims, nor do we wish to wade into the debate as to their methodology and the other basic assumptions which underpinned their report.
What we would like to comment on and what is encouraging to see, however, is the maturity with which the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has responded to the criticism from TIB, highlighting the fact that the issue is not as black-and-white as some would have us believe.
As BGMEA has rightly pointed out, in this highly competitive global market, there are limitations under which private organizations are expected to function, and that we continue to lag behind when it comes to efficiency compared to other regional powers. BGMEA has also responded in measured language to other questions it found which could be raised with respect to the report.
For true improvements to be made to the sector, this is exactly what we need: Constructive discussions which consider the situation from every angle.
We appreciate the thoughtful response and invitation for further dialogue that was given by BGMEA.
This is perhaps a testament to the new leadership under which BGMEA is currently operating, and we hope that the association continues to work together with other organizations to continue to adapt to worldwide changes to remain competitive, while also of course ensuring workers’ rights and safety.
Moving forward, we hope that BGMEA continues to function with the maturity and professionalism they have shown here under its new leadership. This will remain crucial in the upcoming years as we strive to create a more successful garment industry.