Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Country’s apparel makers have sought cooperation from foreign diplomats and development partners to build the ready-made garment (RMG) sector a safe and secured industry.

The appeal was made at a meeting titled “Post Rana Plaza Initiatives and the Current Scenario of RMG sector” held in the capital Dhaka on April 10.

The aim of the meeting was to update the ambassadors, high commissioners and donor agencies about the progress taken in the country’s RMG sector after the Rana Plaza tragedy.

“We’ve briefed them about what we have done for improving RMG sector till today since the Rana Plaza collapse with a specific message that we want to build the RMG sector as a safe and secured industry,” Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told reporters after the meeting.

Organized by the BGMEA, the session was attended by 14 foreign diplomats including the United States, European Union, German, Denmark, France, Sweden, France, Norway and Spain and donor agencies, IFC, JICA, and USAID.

“We’ve lots of issues need to be improved and hope to work together to reach a new height with all the stakeholders,” the BGMEA chief noted.
The country has so far made a significant progress in improving overall working conditions in the RMG sector, but still there are lot of things to do for further advancement, diplomats observed.

 “There have been a lot of achievements over the last one year in terms of ensuring workplace safety in the country, but more needs to be done,” Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Heather Cruden said while talking to the reporters after attending the views-sharing meeting with her fellow colleagues from different countries stationed in Dhaka.

Srinivas Reddy, country director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), said a total of 3,080 victims will be compensated, with each victim receiving BDT 50,000 from the trust fund created by international retailers, before the first anniversary of the factory disaster. “We’ve already started receiving complaints from the victims.”

On the morning of April 24, 2013 the eight-storey Rana Plaza building, which housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, collapsed, leaving at least 1,135 people dead and about 2,000 injured.

Meanwhile, IndustriALL, a global union federation; UNI, a global trade union; and Clean Clothes Campaign, a leading rights network for the garment sector, has already demanded that the 29 brands which sourced from factories housed at Rana Plaza must pay towards the trust fund before April 24.

The fund needs US$40 million and as of now, only one-third of the required funds have been deposited.

Currently, 15 retailers including Benetton, Matalan, Adler Modemarkte and Auchan have failed to even make an initial contribution to the trust fund, Phillip Jennings, general secretary of UNI Global Union, said.

The ILO country director also touched upon the registration of 134 new trade unions over the past one year. “Freedom of association and collective bargaining improved a lot over the last one year — this is a very positive message for the country.”

BBN/SSR/AD-12Apr14-11:55 pm (BST)