Washington, (BBN)-A year after more than thousand workers were killed following a garment unit building collapse in Bangladesh, the US still remains concerned about labour rights and workplace safety in the country.
"We still have concerns about labour rights and workplace safety in Bangladesh. And there's still a lot of work that needs to be done, particularly on the legal side of things with regard to labour law and the export processing zones and ensuring that the hiring of inspector and the conduct of inspections keeps up and increases pace," a senior administration official said.
"We have seen progress in many areas, to include an increased registration of unions, harmonised fire and structural safety standards, an increased hiring of inspectors working to increase the number of inspections, working on a publicly accessible database that shares information about the sector and inspections," the official, who did not want to be named, said.
Another official said on the first anniversary of Rana Plaza on April 24, it is essential to focus on the fundamental issues of fire and building safety in the wake of the tragedy which came only a few months after the Tazreen factory fire that killed over a hundred in November 2012, reports Zee News.
The US has been long been involved in a very careful examination of issues, not only relating to fire and building safety but also the adequacy of labour laws pertaining to fundamental rights such as freedom of association, the right to organise and the right to bargain collectively.
A third US official said the removal of Bangladesh from GSP had a limited influence in its exports but did send a strong message. "It effected only a small portion of their exports to the United States, but it definitely sent a strong message to the government," the official said.
"We also at the same time gave the government a GSP action plan that contains several elements that if implemented by the government would form the basis for us to consider reinstating their benefits," the official said.
"We had our first interim review of Bangladesh late last year, and in early January of this year we indicated to the Bangladesh government that while some progress had been achieved, there was some way to go. We would not be moving to reinstate benefits at that time," the official said. Another review is coming up shortly in May/June.
The results would be announced in June. Responding to questions, the official said the US would not be in a position to reinstate Bangladesh while the program is without authorisation.
"Most immediately with respect to any decisions on reinstatement, we would not likely be in a position to act on that as long as the program is lapsed," the official said.