Two years after the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) and its over 1,500 participants remain closely engaged in the country and reaffirm their commitment to continue working towards improving workplace safety and workers' rights in the Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector.
This tragedy generated unprecedented efforts from all stakeholders -from government to NGOs, trade unions and the business sector- and this high-level coordination has enabled strides towards a safer working environment. While there is still much to accomplish, as Human Rights Watch points in a report about the RMG sector in the country, important steps have been taken to ensure sustainable and endurable progress is being achieved.
During this time, BSCI has supported those initiatives created to promote technical improvements, such as the Bangladesh National Tripartite Plan of Action on fire safety to increase inspection resources and fire and building safety and the Bangladesh Accord, of which 40% of signatories are BSCI participants.
Financial compensation is a crucial matter for the victims and their families and BSCI encouraged companies to contribute to the International Rana Plaza Donors' Trust Fund set up in January 2014 for this purpose. Brands and retailers' donations have played a key role in making part of these payments possible. However, the current lack of funds still prevents the Rana Plaza Arrangement to fully compensate those affected. For this reason, BSCI has recently made a joint call with the Ethical Trade Initiaitve (ETI) and the Social Accountability International (SAI) to urge Bangladeshi public and private partners to contribute in order to fill in this financial gap. BSCI believes that such an engagement would as well bring credibility to the discussions initiated by ILO for the establishment of an Employment Injury Insurance (EII) in the country, which would ensure protection for all ready-made garment (RMG) workers and compensation should they suffer an accident at work.
In addition to the round table and discussions that BSCI facilitates in the country, it has as well engaged in discussions at political level with national authorities and representatives of different international organisations. In this sense, BSCI took part in an ILO-EU stocktaking meeting in October 2014 where stakeholders reviewed the progress made under the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact: labour laws have been amended to strengthen freedom of association, collective bargaining and Occupational Health and Safety; more labour, fire and building safety inspections have been carried out and new trade unions have been created.
The latest ILO publication on the RMG sector in Bangladesh evidences these accomplishments and shows the impact that a collaborative approach between all stakeholders has had in advancing real and concrete developments. In light of this, BSCI encourages all actors to keep this close cooperation and the impetus generated to ensure safer working conditions and a promising future for the country.