While Bangladesh made some positive changes toward bolstering safety in factories in amendments to its labor laws adopted by Parliament Monday, global union leaders, labor diplomats and experts said the reforms do not go far enough in meeting international standards, judging from preliminary assessments.
“What I hear from my unions in Bangladesh, the first comments are that there were some small improvements. This is clearly short of what the U.S. government, the European Union and the International Labor Organization, and the unions, have expected,” according to Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, the umbrella grouping that also represents Bangladesh Garment workers unions.
“This is clearly not enough,” Raina told WWD, and added that there are still details missing for the amendments to be ILO compliant.
The global union chief in May brokered a fire and safety accord with more than 70 fashion brands and retailers to improve conditions in Bangladesh’s factories. He noted the labor reforms on safety that were adopted are at least a positive step.
“Thanks to the pressure by the ILO high-level mission [to Bangladesh] in May, they got some positive things, more inspectors and some improved provisions, so they are steps forward,” Raina said.
As of press time, some labor union groups, European Union officials, and senior ILO officers were apprehensive about making an assessment until they have a full translation and expert legal opinion of the amendments, said senior sources closely engaged in talks with Bangladesh on the reforms.
The same sources said ILO representatives met with the Bangladesh government in Dhaka Tuesday to get clarity on the legislative changes.
“We are aware of the press reports, and our representation in Bangladesh is trying to get an official copy of the law on which basis we need to give it careful study before we comment,” John Clancy, spokesman for EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, told WWD Tuesday.
The Bangladesh daily, Financial Express, reported in its Tuesday edition that according to Mikail Shipar, the Bangladesh Labor and Employment Secretary, 87 amendments were made to the Labor Act of 2006.
Speaking to some of the amendments, Shipar told the newspaper that “employees would no longer need approval from factory owners to form trade unions,” and that inspections will be mandatory when a factory is up for a license or renewal, and that all exits should be kept lock-free.
Published reports indicate that “no change can be made in the factory layout plan without the permission of factory inspectors.”
Human Right Watch, the New York-based advocacy group, said Tuesday the amendments by Bangladesh “still fall far short” of meeting its obligations under core ILO standards.
It said the amendments deal with some problematic provisions of the existing laws, while leaving others untouched, and singled out that at least 30 percent of workers in an establishment would still have to join a union for the government to register it (unions had proposed 10 percent in talks with the government sources said); that unions will be allowed to select their leaders only from workers at the establishment; and that discriminatory anti-strike provisions in the law favor foreign investors by prohibiting strikes in any establishment during the first three years of operation, if it is “owned” by foreigners or is established in collaboration with foreigners.
Raina said, as things stand, Bangladesh does not meet the criteria for the ILO better factories scheme.
“This is our clear line, so we will oppose the start of that program until ILO core reforms are introduced,” he said.
Finally, according to labor union sources close to Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity, the amendments are not likely to have satisfied the U.S. government to take decisive action on reinstating the General System of Preferences trade benefits the administration suspended June 27.
Bangladesh has suffered multiple factory tragedies over the last 12 months, leading to the deaths of more than 1,200 people.
My character, Dinah Madani, is just the coolest, [most] badass woman imaginable," says @amberroserevah. The actress stars in @marvel's newest series on @netflix, @thepunisher. To prepare for her role, Revah sat down with Homeland agents to get a real sense of with Dinah's day-to-day life is really like. Read our full interview on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
A scene from the 91st annual @macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which boasts 50 million TV viewers and 3.5 million on-site spectators, is considered one of the largest and most watched parades in the world. (📷: Jason Szenes/EPA-REX)
The circus came to @bloomingdales 59th Street on Tuesday night and lit up Lexington Avenue with acrobatic dancers, death-defying knife throwing, sword swallowing and aerial acts with no net. The 45 minutes of theatrics built up to unveiling the holiday windows depicting @swarovski crystal-encrusted circus pieces and scenes from “The Greatest Showman” – songs from the soundtrack included. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Joshua Scott)
The psychedelic fashion that pervaded the ’60s is back with an exhibit at the @museumofcityny. “Mode New York: Fashion Takes a Trip” chronicles the changing styles from 1960 through 1973 and features designers such as @ysl, @oscardelarenta and more. The exhibition, which is on display through April 1, is organized into four periods: First Lady Fasion, Youthquake, New Bohemia and New Nonchalance. Pictured here is model Pat Bardonella during the Garvey Day Parade in 1968. (📷: @kwamebphoto) #wwdeye #wwdfashion
“People should be a lot more honest in expressing both the dark and light of themselves. We need to give each other the space to do that because it’s the only way we can grow and evolve,” says @noelwells of her new film “Mr. Roosevelt,” which is largely based on her own struggles. Unexpectedly leaving @nbcsnl in 2014 after just one season, Wells felt set back in her self-esteem and career trajectory. She quickly refocused her energy to more personal projects, which led to the completion of “Mr. Roosevelt.” Read the rest of WWD’s interview with the “Master of None” actress on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
@barbrastreisand is giving fans a chance to see her perform up close in a new concert series, which makes its debut on @Netflix today. From behind-the-scenes takes to her concert performance in Miami last December, the two-hour streaming special captures Streisand in her element. Pictured here is the singer/actress photographed for WWD in 1963. (📷: Palmieri Tony) #wwdeye #wwdarchive
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)