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9 Mar 2020

United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic Staff

US Senator releases report assessing labor rights & safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories

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.... [The report] provides practical and timely recommendations for the U.S. Government, the government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh national trade association, apparel brands, and other stakeholders to protect workers from abuse, ensure workers are empowered to defend their rights, and to safeguard and advance gains in factory safety.  

 The report includes the following key findings:

  • RMG workers, especially union leaders and organizers, have been subjected to abuse and harassment, with almost no punishment for perpetrators.  Female workers, who make up the majority of the RMG workforce, are disproportionately affected...
  • [T]he Accord and the Alliance—significantly improved safety conditions in approximately 2,300 RMG factories. However, there are reportedly thousands of unregistered RMG factories operating in Bangladesh that are not part of a safety inspection program...
  • .... [T]here is concern that the government of Bangladesh and local institutions will be unable to sustain the progress made by the Accord and Alliance...
  • Despite labor reforms, the environment for union organizers and activists has deteriorated in recent years...
  • Factory owners have not been held accountable for unfair labor practices, such as firing workers for their labor activism or for filing labor-related complaints.  
  • Western brands have effectively used their economic leverage to improve the safety culture in factories from which they source directly.  However, the low prices they pay for garments continue to incentivize factory owners to cut corners on safety and labor rights... 

Part of the following timelines

Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building safety to cease operations in country by end of Nov 2018 unless govt. grants extension

Bangladesh: Brands respond to mass dismissals of garment workers following minimum wage protests