Washington: The United States expects its companies to hold to the highest standards of working conditions in Bangladesh, even it is up to the individual companies to work with the government on these issues.
"We believe that companies need to make their own decisions. We do have an ongoing dialogue with Bangladesh and internally in the interagency about the need to help Bangladesh and work with companies and work with the government on the working conditions and the situation there," the State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
"We think companies should hold to the highest standards their working conditions, human rights conditions, absolutely. And that's something we have an ongoing dialogue with Bangladesh about," Psaki said in response to a question.
While several of the large European retailers have signed on to a binding fire and building safety code; the US companies have not.
Meanwhile the US Department of Labor announced a $2.5 million competitive grant solicitation to fund improvements in the enforcement and monitoring of fire and building safety standards to better protect workers in the ready-made garment sector of Bangladesh.
"Ready-made garment production has been central to Bangladesh's economic development, with the sector accounting for the vast majority of Bangladesh's exports to the United States. The industry also is the focus of longstanding concerns over violations of worker rights and workplace safety standards," an official statement said.
Bangladesh has been the subject of a review under the Generalized System of Preferences trade program since 2007.
Attention to these concerns has grown in the wake of the Tazreen Fashions factory fire last November that killed more than 100 garment workers and the Rana Plaza building collapse in late April that led to the loss of more than 1,200 lives.
In recent months, the Government of Bangladesh, industry, worker and civil society organisations and other groups have engaged in stepped-up efforts to address fire and building safety concerns.
The government and other stakeholders, however, have a great deal of additional work to do in order to implement existing and developing plans, the Department of Labour said.
The Department of Labour said it will fund one or more recipients who will work to (1) strengthen the Bangladesh Government's ability to improve its enforcement of fire and building safety standards and (2) build the capacity of worker organisations to effectively monitor violations of fire and building safety standards and abate related hazards in the ready-made garment sector.
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Updated Date: Jun 14, 2013 10:00:57 IST