INTER-MINISTERIAL MEETING ON IMPLEMENTATION OF ACTION PLAN
Labour ministry asked to recruit 200 factory inspectors by Oct 15Staff Correspondent
The government has decided to complete appointment of 200 factory inspectors by October 15 as part of action plan for regaining GSP benefits for Bangladeshi products in the US market, commerce minister GM Quader said.
The government has also asked the factory owners to reinstate the sacked workers in their job as soon as possible, he said at a media briefing after the first meeting of the inter-ministerial coordination committee on review of implementation of the action plan.
The committee formed to monitor and review the progress of implementation of Bangladesh’s actions taken or to be taken based on the action plans given by the US and EU for retaining GSP status in the US market and keeping the status unharmed in European market.
‘The meeting asked the labour ministry to complete the recruitment of 200 factory inspectors through special arrangement within two months by October 15,’ Quader said, adding that the Cabinet also approved the proposal.
At the meeting, the committee also distributed responsibilities of implementing the action plan among the stakeholders including different ministries, divisions and association of factory owners, he said.
Earlier, the commerce ministry, coordinator ministry for implementing the action plan, prepared an outline of 17-points combining the action plans given by the US and EU to implement for ensuring labour rights, safety and standards in factories in order to retain GSP status.
The committee will hold meetings in the first week of every month till December with stakeholders to monitor and review the progress of implementing the action plan, he said.
On June 27, the US government suspended the generalised system of preferences
or duty-free trade facility for Bangladesh in its market due to poor labour rights and working environment.
‘We hope that we will be able to implement the action plan by December when the US government will arrange a hearing on the reinstatement of GSP benefits for Bangladesh. And, we hope the US will revive the facility,’ Quader said.
Among the other progress, he said that the government asked the factory owners to reinstate dismissed workers soon. Otherwise owners will face legal actions.
Those workers, particularly from the factories located at EPZ, had been sacked in different times for engaging in movement for ensuring labour rights.
The government reviewed the cases filed against some labour activists and found that those cases could be withdrawn, he said.
Officials said that the US had made a condition to withdraw the cases filed against labour leader Kalpana Akter and Babul Akter for alleged conspiracy against readymade garment industries.
The commerce minister said that home ministry was monitoring the investigation into the sensitive case of murder of Aminul, a labour leader.
According to the progress report, Department of Chief Inspector of Factories and Establishments has already appointed 4 inspectors, completed appointment process of another 23 inspectors and initiated recruitment process for another 35 inspectors.
At the moment, only 51 inspectors are tasked with overseeing more than 2 lakh factories across the country.
The Directorate of Fire Service and Civil Defense, RAJUK, and Chittagong Development Authority are also going to appoint fire and building inspectors.
The government has also taken an initiative to establish seven fire stations at factory areas, commerce minister said.
Bangladesh has decided to create a publicly accessible database of all readymade garment factories as a platform for reporting labour, fire and building inspections and requested International Labour Organisation for funding in this project, he said.
He said that labours of export processing zones were enjoying collective bargaining rights. The prohibition of imposing strike will also be withdrawn by December while blacklisting of workers for demonstrating has already been withdrawn.
‘A committee under Prime Minister’s Office will submit a report on labour rights issues at EPZ at the next meeting,’ he said.
According to the action plan, DCIFE has already been asked to establish two hotlines, one for monitoring labour union activities and the other for fire safety while fire service department has already established such hotlines.
Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque, commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed, representatives from home ministry, labour and employment ministry, housing and public works ministry, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Centre for Policy Dialogue, among others, attended the meeting.
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