Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

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Alliance Response to Comments of Bangladesh Finance Minister

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Guillermo Meneses
June 19, 2015
+1 (202) 445-1570 / media@afbws.org

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) and its member companies are concerned to see comments attributed to Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith criticizing efforts to improve safety in the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh.

“I am truly shocked that a member of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet would criticize efforts aimed at enhancing safety in the ready-made garment sector, which employs more than 4 million women and men and is one of the largest contributors to Bangladesh’s growing economy,” said the Honorable Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the Alliance. “I am hopeful that the government of Bangladesh will clarify its position and demonstrate unequivocal support for the Alliance and other initiatives working to improve the safety of its people and the sustainability of its economy.”

In 2013, the Alliance and its Members committed to invest USD $50 million over a five year period to upgrade member factories to meet international fire and safety standards and ensure garment workers are not risking their lives to earn a living. The Alliance has inspected 100 percent of the factories from which its Members source and is working to implement corrective action plans and assist factory owners with remediation efforts. When temporary closure of a factory due to remediation is necessary, the Alliance pays 50 percent of each factory worker’s salary for up to four months, with the remaining 50 percent covered by the factory owner. The Alliance is also empowering factory workers by training them on safety measures and providing them a voice to refuse unsafe work.

This commitment is ironclad but limited to five years. The government of Bangladesh must commit to support and continue this effort to ensure the sustainability of the reforms achieved by the Alliance and other initiatives, beginning in 2018.

“Comments like those attributed to the finance minister and other officials in Bangladesh raise serious and significant concerns about the commitment of the government to this unprecedented and private sector-led and funded safety initiative,” Tauscher said. “The Alliance urges Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government to clarify their position on the great work being done and significant financial contributions being made toward improving factory safety, and make clear their intentions to continue this work for the benefit of factory workers, the garment industry and the country as a whole.”

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