However, she said progress on fire and building safety in the country’s ready-made garment industry is satisfactory.
Bernicat was speaking at a discussion on “The State of Fire Safety in Bangladesh,” organised by the International Labor Organization in Dhaka yesterday.
This was an initiative of the ILO’s Improving Fire and General Building Safety in Bangladesh project which is funded by the US Department of Labor.
“The RMG industry and the government also have yet to ensure that they are fully protecting the rights of workers under the law of the land including the rights to organise, bargain collectively and raise safety concerns,” said Marcia Bernicat.
“We have witnessed significant progress on fire and building safety. Since 2013, nearly 4,000 factories have been assessed on structural electrical and fire safety by Accord and Alliance.”
Kutubuddin Ahmed, general secretary of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, said the trade unions can help identify problems with workers’ issue. “If there is no union, the workers cannot raise their voice regarding their concerns.”
He urged the stakeholders to look beyond the RMG sector as the country has witnessed fire at other industries too in recent months.
All the speakers admitted that significant improvement has been made in the country’s RMG sector in terms of fire, electrical and structural safety.
Talking on the safety status, ILO Bangladesh Country Director Srinivas Reddy said: “After 2013, there has been considerable improvement in fire safety. Better preparedness has bee seen at the factory level.”
He urged the people concerned to change mindset about workers’ safety. Reddy said first priority should be safety at workplace.
“Our goal is to help improve safety and the government and industry can independently work to ensure workplace safety for workers.”