Washigton, DC (BBN)- The United States said the government of Bangladesh must do more to ensure protection when workers face intimidation and reprisals for trying to organise.

The US trade representative, Agency for International Development, and the Department of Labour in a joint statement on Wednesday also said the Bangladesh government made progress in some important respects including allowing unions to register,permitting re-registration of a leading labour rights body, factory-level monitoring, hiring of new labour inspectors, and conducting preliminary safety inspections.

“But there is much more work still to be done. There continue to be concerns about basic worker rights protections under both Bangladesh’s labor law and its special Export Processing Zone law,” the statement noted.

The statement making the first anniversary of collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka that claimed over 1,100 lives and injured thousands more – the worst industrial disaster in the history of the garment industry.

Like the Triangle Shirtwaist disaster in the United States over one hundred years ago, Rana Plaza, and the Tazreen factory fire that preceded it in November 2012, have become potent symbols of the significant and unnecessary risks that many workers are still forced to take in order to earn a living and support their families. “As we mourn the victims, we are again called to action so that tragedies like Rana Plaza and Tazreen never happen again.”

It also said all stakeholders in Bangladesh – including the government, employers, and buyers of Bangladeshi products – bear a responsibility for ensuring safe working conditions and that workers have a voice to protect their interests.

“To that end, we are working with all stakeholders to implement the action plan we laid out after president Obama suspended Bangladesh’s benefits under the generalized system of preferences programme last June. We are also closely coordinating with the European Union and the International Labour Organisation, key partners in a July 2013 Sustainability Compact on worker rights and factory safety in Bangladesh.”

BBN/SSR/AD-24Apr14-12:44 am (BST)