Urgent action is needed to address labour conditions in the garments industry, says Rushanara Ali MP

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Rushanara Ali MP, Shadow Minister for International Development, today called on companies such as Primark to take urgent action to address workers’ conditions and take responsibility for safety standards following the collapse of an eight storey building on the outskirts of Dakha, Bangladesh, in which over 200 hundred garment workers employed in factories that supplied high street shops to the West have been killed.

In Rushanara’s capacity as Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh, she met with the Bangladesh Foreign Minister on her visit to the UK and raised the pressing concerns of workers’ conditions in the garment factories of Bangladesh, as well as about the wider issues around unrest following the War Crimes Tribunal rulings.

Rushanara said:

“I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in this tragic incident. The collapse of the eight storey building raises serious concerns about the hazardous conditions and poor safety standards in garment factories in countries such as Bangladesh. Western companies operating in developing countries have the responsibility to work with governments to improve working conditions and prevent further deadly accidents.

“There is an important role for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and similar domestic organisations to campaign for basic human rights and working conditions to be maintained in garments and other factories. I have previously called on the UK Government to provide international development assistance to support such organisations who have been working to help  protect workers and to ensure that people can go to work and expect to leave in safety without their lives being at risk. It is crucial that we support organisations that campaign to ensure decent labour conditions and labour rights and challenge companies to do the right things to protect the lives of workers.”

Rushanara also urged the UK Government to work with the Bangladeshi Government to address this pressing issue. She added:

“It is crucial that the UK Government works with the Government of Bangladesh to improve labour standards in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Of the 23 countries that provide the ILO with development assistance, the UK only ranks 22nd. I urge the Department for International Development to reconsider renewing funding to the ILO so that they can help improve conditions and labour rights in Bangladesh as well as other developing countries.”

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