“Decent work and fair globalisation are important and related objectives on the Norwegian government’s agenda. Everybody must enjoy basic workers’ rights, work in an environment where standards are respected, and receive their share of the wealth created,” said Merete Lundemo, Ambassador of Norway to Bangladesh at the project launching ceremony.

She also inaugurated a two-day training which aimed at promoting better compliance with international labour standards, particularly fundamental principles and rights at work.

”We want all companies to be familiar with the national law and international standards. Enhancing labour rights and standards will enhance business,” she added. The US$2.5 million project titled “Promoting Fundamental Rights at Work and Labour Relations in Export Oriented Industries in Bangladesh” is being implemented in the readymade garment (RMG), shrimp processing, and shoe and leather industries.

President of the Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) Syed Nasim Manzur said diversity and compliance, especially with the national law, will boost the leather sector in Bangladesh given its value and contribution to the national economy.
”The sector’s contribution to foreign exchange is now $1.0 billion, which can be doubled in next 10 years. The major importers of shoes (the USA and European countries) want to diversify their import-sources. Bangladesh stands with an advantage in this regard,” he said.
”This new project aims to build on the existing work by ILO (International Labour Organisation) in Bangladesh in the areas of promoting labour rights, supporting dialogue between employers, workers and the government, labour compliance, freedom of association, and collective bargaining,” stated ILO Country Director Srinivas B Reddy.

The two-day training programme, focused on 2013 amendments to the Bangladesh Labour Act, is being attended by 64 mid-level managers, human resource managers, and compliance officers from affiliated factories of the LFMEAB.

The major outcomes of the Norway-funded project are to train up 4,000 workers and employers on fundamental labour rights, their respective obligations, and to enhance the capacity of relevant government agencies, industrial relations institutes, and labour courts to contribute to the improvement of occupational health and safety through the implementation of the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Integrity of Structure.