‘Better Work’ program is helping in improving working conditions in garment factories of Bangladesh. The program is helping shift the mindset of garment employers in from seeing compliance as an obligation to being a business necessity that makes them more competitive. The challenge is to bring more factories under the program and convince individual factory owners. Another challenge is to ensure global brands and retailers implement compliance in their supplier factories across the country.
Currently it works with 120 factories, which employ over 2, 41,000 workers and cooperates with 34 international brands and retailers. Better Work, launched in 2014, is a joint initiative between ILO and IFC. It helps ensure compliance on issues like welfare funds, vacation and maternity leave in factories. It has introduced a new concept of supporting readymade garment factories to boost their compliance while enhancing productivity. It hopes to make a contribution to the working conditions and competitiveness of individual factories and help take the industry to the next level.
Bangladesh’s $28 -dollar-a-year garment export industry includes 4,500 factories, employing some four million workers. The country is the second-largest apparel and textile exporter in the world, only after China. Bangladesh aims to be a middle-income country with a $50 billion export sector by 2021.