The International Labour Organisation (ILO) welcomes the decision of the Government of Bangladesh to upgrade the Chief Inspector of Factories and Establishments office to a ‘Directorate’ as an important step in the implementation of one of the commitments agreed by the Government in the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity and the EU Sustainability Compact issued on 8 July 2013.
The Government issued orders on 15 January 2014 sanctioning 679 new staff positions in the Directorate including 392 new inspector positions. With this upgrade, the number of labour and factory inspectors will increase to a total of 575 from the current 183 positions.
The ILO considers this to be a significant step towards improving safety and workers’ rights in Bangladesh garment industry. In support, the ILO Country Office for Bangladesh is preparing detailed plans for the development of the capacity of the new Directorate, including training the new inspectors during the next three years.
A delegation of 8 senior ILO officials from Geneva, Bangkok and New Delhi along with a senior representative from the ILO International Training Centre (ITC) in Turin, Italy is currently in Dhaka and will be meeting the newly appointed Inspector General of Factories and Establishments along with a team of incumbent and new inspectors to conduct a detailed assessment of the training and capacity building needs of the Directorate and develop a three year partnership plan. The delegation will call on the Honourable Labour Minister and the Labour Secretary to discuss the ILO plans.
The delegation will also meet with the Bangladesh Employers Federation, BGMEA, BKMEA and two trade union bodies, the National Coordination Committee for Workers Education (NCCWE) and the Industriall Bangladesh Council (IBC) to prepare plans for capacity development of employers, mid-level managers, supervisors, trade union leaders and workers on occupational safety and health and workers’ rights issues.
“The upgrading of the inspection services is a significant milestone in our joint efforts to strengthen the capacity government, employers and workers organizations in addressing the working conditions, safety and workers’ rights issues in Bangladesh”, said Mr. Srinivas B Reddy, Country Director, ILO Bangladesh. “During the visit of the delegation, the development of partnerships will be explored with a wide range of institutions. We will be targeting the capacity development of national master trainers who will then in close partnership with national institutions train a large number of government officials, factory owners, managers, supervisors and trade union leaders on safety and workers’ rights, creating a cascading effect.”
The activities will be rolled out under a number of ILO projects and programmes on working conditions, fire safety and workers’ rights funded by Canada, the Netherlands, UK DfID, the US Department of Labor, Norway, and Switzerland.