Bangladesh Business Forum 2022: Stakeholders discuss strategies for sustainable garment industry

11 Jan 2023

Representatives from employers, workers, the government, and the world’s largest retail brands discussed strategies for sustainable growth of the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector at the Bangladesh Business Forum on November 2, 2022, in Dhaka.

Under the theme “Partnership and inclusion for sustainable growth,” the forum was organized by the Better Work Bangladesh (BWB) programme, a collaboration between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry has been the key driver behind the country’s economic miracle. Recognizing the exemplary progress made in the sector over the years, the forum highlighted that a competitive garment industry that provides decent jobs to workers and good business for factories will drive economic development further.

Discussions at the forum centred on the importance of partnership and dialogue to promote decent work and business competitiveness in the RMG sector, supported by coordinated capacity-building initiatives, improved labour market governance, effective social dialogue, and responsible sourcing practices in the supply chains.

The forum highlighted the need for promoting dialogue in factories and building harmonious relations among management and worker representatives to identify their needs and improve their working relationships as a basis for effective prevention and remediation of problems.

The event was attended by more than 400 participants, including representatives from the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, development partners, global brands and retailers, manufacturers, civil society, and academia.

“With the joint efforts of the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and development partners, we can transform the sector to help Bangladesh achieve the goal that we aspire to in the next 20 years”, said Tapan Kanti Ghosh, the Chief guet of the event and the Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh.

“Considering the importance of the sector to the country’s economic development, Switzerland has been supporting the Better Work Programme to strengthen Bangladesh’s resilience to economic fluctuations and equip the country to manage emerging trade requirements related to responsible business conduct,” said H.E. Nathalie Chuard, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh.

Mr. Khaled Mamun Chowdhury, Director General, Department of Labour, Ministry of Labour and Employment, GoB, stated, “harmonious industrial relations and labour management are important in the labour sector. We specifically need to address labour rights, privileges, and occupation safety.

“ILO will continue its partnership with the Bangladesh government, employers, global brands, and workers’ organizations to support the RMG sector and other key industries as vehicles for decent economic growth for Bangladesh in the wake of LDC graduation,” said Mr. Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, International Labour Organization (ILO), Bangladesh.

“By working together to respect and promote fundamental principles and rights at work, we can promote RMG and other industries to accelerate Bangladesh’s journey towards sustainable development goals,” he added.

“We are working closely with factories through this programme to steadily improve compliance with ILO core labour standards and national legislation covering compensation, contracts, occupational safety and health, and working time,” said Mohammad Anis Agung Nugroho, Program Manager, Better Work Bangladesh.

Md. Nasir Uddin Ahmed, Inspector General, Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments, Khaled Mamun Chowdhury, Director General, Department of Labour, Mr Abdul Quader, deputy secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment; Ashani Alles, senior private sector specialist, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Bangladesh; Md. Shahidullah Azim, Vice President, Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA),  Fazle Shamim Ehsan, Vice President, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Shameem Ara, Chairperson, Coordination Committee on Workers Education (NCCWE), Md. Rashadul Alam Raju, General Secretary, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, and Conor Boyle, Head of Programme Development, Learning, and Country Programs, Better Work Global, were among the speakers at the event.

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