The United States has encouraged the BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh to resolve the long-standing ‘labor rights concerns’ now, so that Bangladesh can focus on preparing for its future as a middle income country and, eventually, a developed country.
“BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh are at a critical juncture as Bangladesh prepares to graduate from least developed country status in 2024, having already met all three criteria required for this important step,” said US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat on Monday.
Ahead of the International Labor Conference, that falls today (May 28) and the Sustainability Compact on June 25 she encouraged Bangladesh to seize the moment.
The US envoy was addressing a press conference on ‘BGMEA-BUFT Journalism Study Tour’ through the International Visitor Leadership Pprogram (IVLP) at the BGMEA Bhaban.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Md Siddiqur Rahman, Chairman, BUFT Board of Trustees Muzaffar U. Siddique, BGMEA Vice President (Finance) Mohammed Nasir, Editor-in-Chief and Chief Executive Officer, Ekushey Television Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, Editor of the Daily Bhorer Kagoj Shyamal Dutta and Editor-in-Chief, Gazi TV Syed Ishtiaque Reza were present.
She announced the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program entitled “Economic and Labor Reporting,” and thanked the BGMEA and BGMEA’s University of Fashion and Technology for partnering with the U.S. Embassy to make this important exchange possible.
This IVLP will allow the 11 Bangladeshi participants to travel to Washington, D.C. and New York to meet with policymakers, journalists, apparel industry leaders, labor rights organizations, and consumer rights organizations.
“Respecting workers’ rights is not just the right thing to do; it is important to ensuring free and fair trade and investment around the world. No one should gain an unfair competitive advantage by treating workers unfairly or not paying them a living wage,” Bernicat said.
She said Bangladesh’s RMG sector is much safer than in 2013 when the Rana Plaza disaster occurred, and Bangladesh and BGMEA must do a better job at marketing the dramatic improvements that are bringing the sector up to world-class standards.
“However, we must all recognize that there is still work to be done on factory and building safety, that we must continue our efforts to ensure remediated factories stay safe, and that new workers are properly trained on safety practices,” she said.
Bernicat urged BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh to come to a quick resolution on the Accord and Alliance’s extensions in Bangladesh.
She said delays in approving their extensions will send a negative signal to buyers and consumers that Bangladesh is not committed to workplace safety.