As the most recent of Better Work programmes, Better Work Bangladesh (BWB) has been collaborating with workers, employers and government to improve working conditions and boost the competitiveness of the garment industry since late 2014.
Better Work Bangladesh is part of the ILO’s initiative “Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector”. This initiative supports the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity, and came as a response to two tragic industrial disasters: the 2012 Tazreen factory fire on November 24, which took the lives of 112 workers, and the collapse of Rana Plaza building in 2013 which housed several factories on April 24, where 1136 people lost their lives.
During the initial stages of the programme, Better Work Bangladesh worked with the government to better align certain elements of the labour code with international labour standards. To this end, labour law amendments and improvements to union registration criteria were made, leading to the registration of approximately 150 new factory-level unions.
Launched in 2013, in anticipation of the release of final regulations to the amended Bangladesh Labour Act, the programme became fully operational in late 2014, registering its first set of garment factories. With the final release of the Bangladesh Labour Rules in September 2015, the Programme was able to deliver full Advisory, Assessments and Training services in over 100 registered factories.
Initially, Better Work Bangladesh operations cover factories in two areas of the Greater Dhaka region characterised by a high factory density. Plans are underway to further expand operations to other geographical and garment cluster areas in 2017, with the aim of having 500 factories in the programme by 2021.