Safety standards at readymade garment industries in Bangladesh have improved. Factory owners have achieved 44 per cent repair work so far. Bangladesh had made remarkable progress in allowing unionism in factories. However, factory owners have to bring about a change in their mindset so that trade unions can function effectively for realising the demands of the workers.
Currently 92 per cent of factories pay the minimum wage to workers. Although safety conditions in member factories of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), two major trade bodies in the apparel sector, have improved a lot, conditions have not improved in 700 sub-contracting factories.
So the government and garment owners have to work to improve safety conditions in the sub-contracting factories, most of which are not members of the two garment trade bodies. International retailers and brands, which source garment items from Bangladeshi factories, had committed to pay more for garment items but have not done so. Rather, the prices of Bangladeshi garment items have decreased by 41 per cent over the last 15 years.
After the Rana Plaza disaster, compensation was indeed paid to victims, but whether it’s adequate is a matter for doubt. Also those responsible for the disaster have yet to be dealt with.