DHAKA, Bangladesh—The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) announced today that its landmark confidential 24/7 worker helpline—Amader Kotha (“Our Voice”)—will transition this month to an independent initiative which will now have the ability to expand its services beyond Alliance factories. The Alliance made the announcement as it moves toward transitioning its factory safety and worker empowerment initiatives to an independent Safety Monitoring Organization (SMO) managed in partnership with credible, local partners.
“Amader Kotha has empowered hundreds of thousands of garment workers to report issues of concern anonymously and without fear of retribution,” said Amb. Jim Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance. “We are incredibly proud to leave the Helpline as a legacy, and that this important resource will continue, and grow, under the leadership of the Helpline project partners.”
Established by the Alliance in mid-2014 as an empowerment mechanism for workers in Alliance-affiliated factories, the Helpline allows garment workers to report and resolve substantive issues in their factories, ranging from emergencies and urgent safety concerns to workplace abuse and wage compensation disputes. Since its inception, more than 233,000 inbound calls from workers in over 1,000 factories have been received. To date, more than 80 percent of all substantive issues have been resolved.
Workers in Alliance factories have praised the Helpline as having a direct impact on their daily lives. “The Helpline allows us to get problems resolved, and our supervisors have started to take our concerns more seriously thanks to the Helpline,” said Shahnaz Akter. Md. Kamruzzaman added, “A colleague of mine called the Helpline to report a fire at a home in his neighborhood, and the Helpline got the fire brigade to the scene. The Helpline makes factories and our communities safer.”
Through a donation made in the name of former Alliance Independent Chair, the Hon. Ellen Tauscher, Alliance member brands will continue to fund Amader Kotha in its initial phase under new management.
“The Amader Kotha Helpline Center is now housed at Phulki,” announced Suraiya Haque, founder and executive director of Phulki, a well-established Bangladesh civil society organization. “We are delighted to continue this enormously beneficial program in collaboration with our project partners, Clear Voice, a project of The Cahn Group, LLC, and LaborLink, recently acquired by ELEVATE, a mobile platform that establishes a two-way communication channel between organizations and their workers.”
“The Amader Kotha Helpline has become a valued asset for all parties,” explained Doug Cahn, president of The Cahn Group and global project manager for the Helpline. “Factory managers learn about and fix problems quickly before they escalate. Brands and retailers have confidence that a system is in place to identify and resolve compliance issues without their direct intervention. And workers have a trusted system that they can rely on 24/7 to achieve results.”
“Accessibility and worker trust are essential elements of functioning grievance mechanisms. We’re proud to offer the dynamic technology and analytics platform behind Amader Kotha that gives workers a reliable experience every time they call, and gives brands and factories the data they need to drive improvement,” said Heather Canon, vice president of Worker Engagement at LaborLink.
About the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was founded by a group of North American apparel companies, retailers and brands who joined together to develop and launch the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, a legally binding, five-year undertaking that is transparent, results-oriented, measurable and verifiable with the intent of improving safety in Bangladeshi ready-made garment (RMG) factories. The Alliance provides global apparel companies and retailers the unprecedented opportunity to come together and put forward concrete solutions to issues that impact apparel and retail industries worldwide. More information about the Alliance can be found at www.bangladeshworkersafety.org.
About the Amader Kotha Helpline
Amader Kotha, or “Our Voice” in Bangla, is a unique collaboration among three project partners–Clear Voice, a project of The Cahn Group that operates hotlines and builds effective grievance mechanisms in supply chains; Phulki, a respected civil society organization working to improve the lives of workers and their families in Bangladesh; and ELEVATE, the new parent company of Laborlink, a leading business risk and sustainability solutions provider. Each partner brings years of experience building innovative, best-in-class labor compliance programs in supply chains.