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.
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
After showing in front of the Eiffel Tower for his last two women’s ready-to-wear collection, it looks like @anthonyvaccarello may be heading to the Big Apple. Sources say the designer will stage his next @ysl show in NYC on June 6. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion