US won’t buy apparels stained with BD workers’ blood

US won’t buy apparels stained with BD workers’ blood
Activists of the Spanish trade union UGT (General Union of Workers) perform with fake blood in front of a Mango store in Barcelona on May 7 during a protest after the tragic death of hundreds of Bangladeshi workers who made clothes for western brands in precarious conditions. Photo: AFP

Activists of the Spanish trade union UGT (General Union of Workers) perform with fake blood in front of a Mango store in Barcelona on May 7 during a protest after the tragic death of hundreds of Bangladeshi workers who made clothes for western brands in precarious conditions. Photo: AFP

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena said on Monday, September 2, 2013 that his country would not buy apparel items stained with the blood of Bangladeshi workers, according to the transcript of his remarks at an inauguration ceremony ceremony of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Help Desk and US Products and Services Information Centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Referring to his recent meeting with the US Congressmen he said: “America will not buy shirts stained with the blood of Bangladeshi worker’s… that is my message”.

He, however, said that all the stakeholders in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector must work together to ensure that Tazreens Fashions and Rana Plaza incidents are never repeated.

He said greed, corruption and ignorance in these two disasters claimed 1,243 lives of innocent Bangladeshi apparel workers who made clothing for the world’s top retailers like Walmart, Tesco, H&M, Carrefour and JC Penny.

“All of us must work together to ensure that the horrors of Tazreens Fashions and Rana Plaza are never repeated,” he said.

He pleaded for constructively addressing the fundamental issues of workers’ rights, fire safety and factory structural soundness, thus setting the stage for Bangladesh’s emergence as a preferred brand.

He said that the tragedies of Tazreen and Rana Plaza had generated unprecedented opportunity for transforming the apparel sector in Bangladesh to become the number one global brand if it addresses the challenges that have arisen from the incidents.

“I believe, the tragedies of Tazreen and Rana Plaza have generated unprecedented opportunity for transforming the apparel sector. I believe stakeholders’ can/must seize this opportunity,” he said.

The US envoy said that Bangladesh could become the number one brand of RMG in the globe if the stakeholders work together.

He said the stakeholders in the apparel sector need to decide how to deal with fundamental issues of workers’ rights to freely associate and organise, issues of fire safety, issues of factory structural soundness.

“I am confident that the stakeholders will choose the path that makes Brand Bangladesh a mighty global brand, the best brand, the biggest brand, indeed, the brand of the world’s largest exporter of apparel… that is what I believe,” the US envoy said.

“Bangladesh is a preferred brand, a brand that buyers and consumers want to buy, a brand that leads Bangladesh to become the largest exporter of apparel in the world, replacing China,” Mr. Mozena said.

“Time has come to transform the apparel sector of Bangladesh. All of us… owners, workers, government, buyers, international organisations, friends and partners of Bangladesh… all of us must work together to ensure that the horrors of Tazreens Fashions and Rana Plaza are never repeated,” he added.

“I commit myself, my mission, my government to do everything that we can to help Bangladesh’s apparel sector lead the way in Bangladesh’s becoming the next Asian Tiger,” he said.

Mr Mozena said Bangladesh and its two biggest apparel markets, the US, and the EU, have adopted a Sustainability Compact, which identifies critical steps for addressing the issues of labour rights, fire safety and factory structural soundness.

These steps include development of an effective inspection regimen to ensure compliance on these issues, creation of a publicly accessible database that posts inspection findings and required remedial actions, labour law reform to improve the rights of workers, increased registration of independent trade unions, and extension of national labour law to the export processing zones (EPZs), including the prohibition on blacklisting workers.

“President Obama announced his decision to suspend Bangladesh’s GSP privileges. He provided an action plan, a road map for reinstating these privileges. The GSP Action Plan, much like the Sustainability Compact, charts a course of concrete actions to help Bangladesh prevent any future disastrous fires and building collapses,” he said.

He said that for the first time ever, the brands the buyers are preparing to help manufacturers address workplace safety issues.

Mr Mozena said the workers are endeavouring as never before to create independent trade unions to ensure that they, the workers, have a voice as the sector grows and flourishes.

“The government of Bangladesh is constructively committed to and engaged in doing its part to bring about change in the apparel sector,” he said.

He said to regain GSP facility, Bangladesh has to ensure labour rights, industrial safety soundness, fire safety issues, accessible database, independent trade unions, factory inspection facility and reformation of existing labour laws.

About Kauser Bhuiyan

Mr. Kauser Bhuiyan is a former EU diplomat and Wall-Street professional who gained nearly two decades of professional experience at Accenture, Bloomberg, European Commission and Stein & Partners. He learned professional skills in the areas of Change Management Consulting, International Financial Market, Economic Co-operation and Sustainability Advisory services in Frankfurt, Zurich, London, New York, Brussels, Islamabad and Dhaka. Mr. Bhuiyan can be reached at ask[at]steinsourcing.com