By  on September 24, 2013

GENEVA — Canada, the Netherlands and the U.K. have signed an agreement with the International Labor Organization to boost labor inspection and upgrade building and fire safety in Bangladesh’s garment sector.

“This program will improve conditions of work, especially safety, and help generate sustainable economic growth and investment,” said Guy Ryder, ILO director-general.

The three nations “combined pledged $24.3 million” in support of the ILO-led plan, officials and diplomats familiar with the details of the program, launched in New York during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, told WWD.

The latest initiative comes as the BBC investigative program “Panorama” reported of new safety and working condition abuses in some factories in Bangladesh’s garment sector, drawing strong criticism from global labor union leaders.

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This new multiyear program by the ILO will focus on supporting the Bangladeshi National Action Plan for Fire and Building Safety developed in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse in April of this year, the global labor agency said. The National Action Plan calls for an assessment of all active export-oriented, ready-made-garment factories in Bangladesh to be completed by Dec. 31.

The ILO plan is supported by other parallel initiatives focused on the ready-made sector in Bangladesh, namely the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that was signed by some 80 global clothing brands and retailers, and covers 1,800 factories, and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a binding five-year undertaking by North American apparel companies and retailers to improve safety in more than 500 factories.

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