Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-The International Labour Organisation (ILO) organised two learning sessions for trade union members of  Bangladesh’s apparel sector to improve skills and safety conditions.

Around 70 trade union members of readymade garment (RMG) industry had taken part in the sessions, said an ILO statement issued on Wednesday.
The sessions are closely relevant to the revival of GSP (Generalised Sustems of Preferences) facility by the US authority for Bangladesh.
The US authority had cancelled the GSP facility for Bangladesh early last year on the ground of low safety arrangements at the industry and the government’s reluctance in effective supervision, resulting two major disasters – Rana Plaza collapse and fire at Tazreen
Fashions – that left some 1,500 workers dead.
The trained members of RMG sector trade unions will be better placed to enhance safety conditions in the industry as the training courses were designed to increase their organisational capacity and knowledge on occupational safety, with special emphasis on health concerns, the statement added.
The training sessions were organised under the ILO special programme on “Improving Working Conditions in RMG Sector” which is funded by Canada, the Netherlands and the UK.
The training was provided by the ITC (International Training Centre) Turin and ACTRAV-ILO (Bureau for
Workers’ Activities).
The programme focuses on improving RMG factory building safety, workers’ rights and overall working conditions in Bangladesh.
The initiative will run until December 2016.
The ILO said that participants have learned about women’s rights and working conditions, freedom of association, collective bargaining and labour administration.
They also gained practical knowledge and skills on union organisation that will enable them to educate and organise
workers at factory level in order to improve working conditions in the RMG sector.
“The workforce in the RMG sector is predominantly female. It is therefore crucial that women are trained to take leadership roles in order to make their voices heard when it comes to improving working conditions. One of the ways that this can be done through strengthening women’s involvement and leadership in trade unions,” said Srinivas B Reddy, ILO Country Director in Bangladesh.
In addition, participants in both training events learned and
practiced interactive techniques to pass on their knowledge to other staff in the work place, the ILO statement said.
“Following the Rana Plaza collapse occupational safety and health has become the number one priority in the RMG sector,” Reddy said.
“Unions have a vital role to play in this regard as they are able to pass on skills to the workforce while also engaging with the employers regarding safety concerns,” Reddy added.
“These training events will help build capacity of union staff and organisers to and we look forward to replicating this type of training on a wider scale in the future,” the ILO country director said in the statement.
The Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector is highly integral to the Bangladeshi economy, with an estimate of 3,500 export factories in operation, providing employment for over 4.2 million workers.
Bangladesh is one of the leading RMG product exporters in the world.
The country mainly exports RMG that fetched $ 24.5 billion, out of total export income of $ 30.5 billion, in the last financial year (2013-14).
BBN/MA/ANS-24Sept14-4:00pm (BST)