Inspection of Bangladesh garment factories for compliance has run into a hurdle. Who’s to fund the factory owners for implementing safety measures? Western groups, Accord and Alliance, who are carrying out their inspection programs have commitments to assist those factory owners who are unable to carry out remedial measures. But a similar inspection done by the Bangladesh government in association with the ILO has no such clear guidelines.
There’s a fear that the government-led improvement program might fail to bring desired results if remedial steps can’t be undertaken due to shortage of funds. Most of the factories are small and medium ones.
The government and the ILO are implementing a three-and-a-half-year-long project to improve working conditions in the readymade garment sector. This involves inspection of factory buildings for fire and electrical safety, strengthening labor inspection, occupational safety and health awareness among workers, rehabilitation and skill training of survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse, and implementation of Better Work Program in the country.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is demanding a budgetary allocation so that cash-strapped factory owners get the funds required for the post-inspection period. It has requested the government to take steps on a priority basis so that funds are available to these units at a low interest rate.