GENEVA — Bangladesh has made progress in enhancing global labor standards and safety norms for the country’s four million garment workers in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza building disaster, which claimed the lives of 1,133 people, but needs to do more in some areas, said the chief of the world’s biggest industrial union.
“During 2010 and 2011, there were two local unions registered, and now, during the past 12 months, over 100 local unions were registered. So the government did what they promised, that they would ease up,” said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, an umbrella group that represents 50 million workers in 140 countries worldwide, including 15 million workers in the textiles and apparel sector. “In these past 12 months, 40,000 workers have been organized in more than a 100 hundred factories,” Raina, a Finnish national, and a lawyer, told WWD.
But he noted the South Asian nation still has some way to go.
“I would say Bangladesh has made some progress, but only because of the constant pressure by unions, by NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], by the U.S. government and the European Union,” he said.
“In Bangladesh, even though our unions represent workers, many are not union-registered. Now this is growing. So in some years, I believe, it will be in the hundreds of thousands.”
Asked if there is pressure from some foreign investors to deter garment workers from joining labor unions, Raina said, “Some brands are clear, they are against forming unions, and some are not.”
Both the International Labor Organization, which oversees global standards, and labor union leaders, such as Raina, highlight Bangladesh needs to take further steps to address concerns related to core lLO norms.
These include the requirement that 30 percent of workers in an establishment have to join a union before it can be registered by the government, and the lack of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights for workers in the country’s export processing zones. At present, they can only join welfare associations.
“The 30 percent is high. It would be much better if it was much lower, like 10 percent. But in some countries, it’s even higher, like the U.S. or Turkey, where it’s 50 percent plus 1, so it’s a majority. So it’s problematic in the U.S., but you can always get bargaining rights — the employer can always voluntarily do that.”
Similarly, Raina said, “Obviously, the EPZ is one of the big problems.…It’s a question of principle, that it’s completely unnecessary. They [EPZs] create some special kind of conditions such as on taxes, but there should be no compromise on labor standards.”
There are a few hundred thousand garment workers employed in Bangladesh’s EPZs, he noted.
Raina said the increase in the minimum wage for garment workers to $67 after the 77 percent increase in December from $38 is “a good first step,” but stressed, “they need to continue with annual revisions. It’s still below a living wage.”
With regard to the Bangladesh accord on fire and building safety, in which IndustriALL was the driving force, Raina said the brands, who have signed, cover more than two million workers in more than 1,600 garment factories.
“We’re really happy we have the accord in place. We have now hired 110 building and fire inspectors — 60 from foreign companies, and 50 from Bangladesh — to do these inspections. They are now finalizing the first round of inspections until September. It’s a huge task. We already faced big problems, of course. There are dangerous factories they identify, and the brands and the factory owners have to agree case-by-case on how to fund the renovations and that, of course, creates difficulties.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)