Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- The AFL-CIO has called on the USTR again to withdraw Bangladesh’s GSP facility in view of the country’s insignificant progress towards ensuring safety measures and labour rights in apparel and shrimp industries.
American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) made the request recently against the backdrop of Bangladesh’s submission to the USTR for continuation of GSP facility in the US market.
“….the AFL-CIO respectfully requests that the President withdraw GSP benefits for Bangladesh until such time as the government of Bangladesh demonstrates measurable, meaningful and sustained progress toward affording internationally recognized worker rights (including the right of association, the right of organize and bargain collectively and the right to acceptable conditions of work) for all of its workers,” the AFL-CIO said in its submission.
“Particularly over the past three years and accelerating in the past 12 months the government of Bangladesh (GoB) has failed to make any meaningful progress towards the goals to which it had previously pledged. The current regression on labour rights and workplace safety is unacceptable and calls for response rather than further review,” its comments added.
As part of the ongoing review process that began in 2007, the Bangladesh government promised that it would “take steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights” including its initiative to inspect the fire and safety conditions of garment factories randomly on a monthly basis during its oral testimony last year at a hearing by the GSP Subcommittee.
Referring to the two deadly fire incidents on November 24 and January 26 -Tazreen and Smart that claimed 119 workers lives – it said the fire demonstrates that far from any improvement in the situation, the GoB and employers in the ready-made garment industry are complicit in maintaining and contributing to conditions that continue to kill and injure hundreds of workers.
The submission also mentioned the issues of allowing trade unions saying it would be a front-line in addressing fire safety and a powerful advocate for improving working conditions.
“It has failed to address garment employers that actively prevent workers from organizing unions in violation of the right to free association and organization,” it said mentioning as of January 30, 2013 there were only 137 registered local unions out of the over 5,000 garment facilities.
It also mentioned the lack of progress in investigation of Aminul Islam’s murder case and in the proceedings of charges against Kalpana Akter and Babul Akhter, not allowing trade union in EPZs and stopping the activities of the NGO named SAFE.
BBN/SSR/AD-19Feb13-10:50 am (BST)