TIB at a press conference tabled 25 recommendations to overcome various limitations and challenges and establish governance in the Ready Made Garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh. The governance challenges include irregularities in carrying out respective responsibilities by buyers, owners and public watchdogs; corrupt practices by different parties; and lack of transparency, accountability and responsiveness toward the industry stakeholders etc. These mal-practices have institutionalised corruption in the RMG and as a result tragedies like Rana PLaza and Tazreen Fashions are taking place on regular basis.
The press conference was held on 31 October 2013 to release a TIB study titled “Ready Made Garments Sector: Governance Challenges and Way Forward” at the National Press Club in Dhaka. Sharif Ahmed Chowdhury, Deputy Programme Manager and Nazmul Huda Mina, Assistant Programme Manager, Research and Policy, TIB presented the findings of the study. Advocate Sultana Kamal, Chairperson, Board of Trustees; Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director and Dr Sumaiya Khair, Deputy Executive Director, TIB were also present during the briefing.
The study analysed RMG related laws and policies; roles of public institutions, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), labour organisations and buyers and identified several mal-practices including fake audit report and salary sheet, non-compliance with building and fire safety codes, non-existence of formal appointment and pay slip. Other mal-practices include placement of work orders by buyers to non-compliant factories in exchange of money, delayed payment by buyers on various grounds mainly to get discount or commission, bribery amounting to TK 7 - 20 lacs to obtain clearance certificates and receive services from 17 public institutions, role of trade union leaders in favour of owners, political interference backed by the BGMEA etc. The study also revealed that around 10% of the parliamentarians were involved in RMG business that created risks of taking policy decisions for personal or group interest – mainly in favaor of owners.
The TIB study strongly recommended strict implementation of laws and establishment of a separate ministry to address the governance challenges in the RMG sector and make the sector a sustainable one. It also recommended to introduce an integrated code of conduct, separate code of conduct on gender, amendment of labour law to facilitate filing of criminal cases against owners in case of accident, increased compensation for dead and injured workers, introduce trade union within a specific time, speedy trial in labour courts, create a central fund by contributing 1 – 1.5 cents per exported garment with a 75:25 ratio for buyers and owners, introduce an accountability framework for buyers, transparency in registration of trade unions etc.