Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) considers the initiative by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association to formulate a Unified Code of Conduct for the readymade garment (RMG) industry as a timely step.
The organisation recommends that all stakeholders, including RMG workers and their organisations, research and social organisations working to ensure a safe and rights-based work environment be involved in formulating an effective code of conduct, read a press release issued by TIB.
"The image crisis in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza accident has been largely overcome through joint initiatives from home and abroad to ensure a safe working environment in the sector. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve the desired progress in this sector," said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
Buyers will need to review the Code of Conduct and Third-Party Audit Protocols, including local laws, regulations and policies, and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, he added.
Besides, if a comprehensive code of conduct is formulated and implemented involving all stakeholders in the sector related to labour rights, safety and welfare, it will be possible to set an example in the international arena as it will play an important role in ensuring the working environment of the sector, he further said.
He also said that in formulating such a code of conduct, special emphasis should be given to the conviction and direction of building the country's RMG industry as a "responsible and people-oriented sector" as described in the National Integrity Strategy of Bangladesh.
To make this initiative more than a formality, it is necessary to ensure the participation of all stakeholders in the process of formulating this code of conduct, including representatives of the government, labour organisations, civic organisations and research organisations working on related issues including labour rights, safety and welfare, Iftekharuzzaman suggested.
Iftekharuzzaman also said, "The proposed Code of Conduct enables law enforcement in the RMG sector, business-friendly policy support, enhances institutional capacity and factory safety, ensures accountability and transparency, enhances labour rights and social security, and co-operates to address existing challenges in ensuring the involvement of all stakeholders."
Creating a fearless and peaceful labour environment by ensuring workers' rights in the RMG sector, especially in the case of wages, overtime, leave, etc, TIB also hopes that the implementation of issues such as sub-contract and small factory compliance, creation of a central database for workers and formation of a single authority to oversee and coordinate to ensure good governance in the sector as a whole will be attained.