The Dhaka-based Policy Research Institute (PRI) has outlined a 10-point programme for reform of the readymade garment (RMG) manufacturing factories in Bangladesh.
The reform agenda titled “The Post-Rana Reform Roadmap” was outlined at a seminar organized by the Bangladesh Employer’s Federation (BEF), the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), and the PRI in Dhaka.
The 10-point roadmap aims to address the key safety and compliance issues facing the Bangladesh garment units, so as to avert repeat of disasters like the Rana Plaza building collapse that resulted in the death of over 1,100 people, most of them being female garment workers.
At least 1,000 apparel units are currently operating from unsafe buildings and their relocation would cost around Tk100 billion, states the PRI roadmap. It suggests that the relocation of such garment factories could be borne initially by the Government and its development partners, which could be paid back in subsequent years by the owners.
PRI recommends that such relocation of garment units be carried out in phases. It adds that garment clusters would have to be set up at different places, based on availability of land, for relocation of the clothing factories.
Besides new RMG economic zones, the roadmap deals with trade union, minimum wage increase, factory classification, BGMEA responsibilities, financing RMG reforms, health and safety standards or compliance monitoring, formation of new worker welfare fund, moving up the value chain, and branding and international PR management.
On BGMEA, the roadmap suggests that the association should conduct unannounced fire drills, after it has trained factory employees for at least three months. It adds that the garment body must ask its members to verify whether the property is in compliance with local zoning codes, before they take a building on lease. The association must also ask factories operating from non-compliant buildings to vacate within a stipulated timeframe.
The implementation of the roadmap for sustainable reform of the RMG units, will result in better compliance and regulations, and thereby improve efficiency and enhance the sector’s competitiveness as well as sustainability in the international market, experts said at the seminar.