Separate RMG industrial villages soon: PM

09 April 2014

Bangladesh will soon have separate 'industrial villages' for the readymade garment sector, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said.
She urged the International Trade Union Confederation chief Michael Sommer to increase the purchase price of garment products.
Sommer, also the chairman of the German Confederation of Trade Union, paid a courtesy call on Hasina at the Parliament building on Monday evening.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Hasina's special aide Mahabubul Haq Shakil said: "The Prime Minister observed that garment villages would create safe workplaces for the workers."
Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of RMG products, trailing China. The sector contributes nearly 80 percent to the country's export income.
The sector has been plagued by accidents, drawing flak for poor working conditions and low wages.
Foreign buyers have been expressing their displeasure since the death of over 110 workers in the 2012 Tazreen factory fire and last year's Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1,100 people, mostly RGM workers.
Most of the garment factories are located in Dhaka and Narayanganj.
The Prime Minister said the existing problems would be solved once the factories are moved to the industrial villages.
Hasina emphasised a hike in the purchase price so that the factory owners could afford to pay workers higher wages.
"The government can continue pressurising the owners if the buyers pay [the workers] more," Shakil quoted the prime minister as saying.
Sommer observed that a healthy worker-owner relation could best protect the workers' interests. Hasina informed him that the workers' wages had been raised by 226 percent since 2009.
Sommer said Bangladesh government's assistance to the Rana Plaza victims had been widely discussed. He said the move to amend the labour Act and appoint factory inspectors were positive steps by the government.
Bangladesh-Germany bilateral trade stood at over $4 billion last year.

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