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Govt seeks more time to meet conditions on RMG sector

3. Suravee GarmentsThe government has sought more time to meet some of the conditions set by the US and the EU to improve the workplace safety and labour standards in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector.

The government has sought time until June, July and October next for recruitment of additional 200 inspectors, formulation of rules for labour law implementation and making sure the EPZ law conforms to the international standards respectively.

“We could not meet few conditions timely and have sought more time to meet them,” Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar told the reporters after a meeting with the diplomats of the US, EU, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany.

Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed and Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Director in Bangladesh Srinivas Reddy, among others, were present at the meeting.

The recruitment of additional 200 inspectors would be completed by June next. Of them, 25 were already appointed, he said. It was taking a long time due to some legal complexities, he added.

The draft of the rules on implementation of the labour law was prepared and discussion with the stakeholders was going on, he said adding it would be possible to do it by July next.

Regarding the EPZ law, he expressed his hope that that condition would be met by October next.

Earlier, the EU Sustainability Compact for continuous improvement in labour rights and factory safety in the RMG sector and in the knitwear sector in Bangladesh, later joined by the US, set the December, 2013 deadline for recruitment of the additional 200 inspectors.

Later the government got the time extended to March last to meet two requirements-recruitment of the inspectors and establishment of a garment industry database. But it failed to complete the recruitment and launch the database by the deadline. Replying to a question, Mr Shipar said the diplomats had stressed a comprehensive database on the country’s apparel sector which would incorporate all related information including the inspection reports by local inspectors, BUET engineers and the retailers’ groups Accord and Alliance. “We have informed them that all the information would be incorporated time to time,” he added.

Replying to another question, he said they shared with the ambassadors the reply sent to the US authority in line with implementation of the US Action Plan in the RMG sector to restore the GSP benefit there.

Earlier, William Hanna, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh, said they discussed the issues of factory inspection and making available the information in the database, implementation of the labour law and the recruitment of inspectors. Terming the Rana Plaza tragedy a turning point, he said lots had been done over the years while many changes in the sector were needed to avoid recurrence of such a tragic incident. “But, of course, we need to continue working hard,” he added.

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Source: Financial Express

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