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US concern over Bangladesh RMG safety

  • Published at 06:08 am April 22nd, 2014

Workers’ safety and rights in Bangladesh remains the United States concerned even after a year of the Rana Plaza collapse that left more than 1,100 dead.

A group of senior US officials made the statement in a briefing for journalists, AFP reports.

They said progress had been made getting the government in Dhaka to crack down on dangerous practices and give millions of workers in the country more power to protect themselves.

But the country still has a ways to go, they said, after the deadliest textile factory disaster in history left 1,135 dead on April 24 last year.

“We have seen progress in many areas, to include increased registration of unions, harmonized fire and structural safety standards, and an increased hiring of inspectors,” said one US official speaking on the basis of anonymity.

He said the US still has concerns about labour rights and workplace safety in Bangladesh and there's still a lot of work to be done, particularly on the legal side of things.

The official said following the Rana Plaza collapse and the Tazreen fire, the issue of safety “has really moved to the center stage of our relationship. It's perhaps our strongest priority with regards to Bangladesh currently.”

To put pressure on the Bangladesh government to act on worker safety, last June Washington cut the country's "GSP" trade privileges.

Garments were not covered under the GSP programme anyway, and so the actual economic impact on Bangladesh was minimal, admitted a second US official.

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