What does the new US policy of sanctions, visa restrictions for violating workers’ rights mean for Bangladesh RMG?

For the primary time ever, the US (US) has launched a Presidential Memorandum on Advancing Employee Empowerment, Rights, and Excessive Labor Requirements Globally, which is able to permit the nation to impose sanctions, penalties and visa restrictions with out having to go to the United Nations (UN) first. 

After the announcement on Friday, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) exporters mentioned they had been deeply involved because the coverage can have main ramifications for the reason that US is the biggest export vacation spot for Bangladesh-made RMG merchandise. 

Additionally they mentioned they’re rigorously studying the tremendous print to grasp the way it would possibly have an effect on the business. 

They did nonetheless acknowledge that there may be some gaps in labor requirements in Bangladesh which the US is sad with, and due to this fact should be addressed. 

The US coverage on international staff’ rights 

Secretary of the US Division of State Antony J Blinken in his speech mentioned those that threaten, intimidate, assault union leaders, labour rights defenders and labour organizations will probably be held accountable on the Rollout of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing Employee Empowerment, Rights and Excessive Labor Requirements Globally.

“We’ll work to carry accountable those that threaten, who intimidate, who assault union leaders, labour rights defenders, labour organizations – together with utilizing issues like sanctions, commerce penalties, visa restrictions – all of the instruments in our package,” mentioned Blinken.

Searching for anonymity, a top-level attire producer instructed Dhaka Tribune that if the US feels that any nation or business just isn’t upholding staff’ rights, it may use its new staff’ rights coverage in opposition to them.

They’ve the authority to impose penalties, visa restrictions and entry restrictions below the applying on any corporations, items, or folks. 

Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Staff Federation, whose efforts was talked about by Secretary Blinken mentioned it is a international coverage and the US is free to make use of it in opposition to any nation that violates labour rights. 

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the CPD, mentioned that the coverage is a sign for Bangladesh because the US can take any measures in the event that they really feel the employees’ rights are violated. 

Why this worries Bangladesh 

Bangladesh is performing nicely when it comes to employee and infrastructure security, however exporters are involved in regards to the not too long ago up to date insurance policies.

The producer, who wished to stay nameless, mentioned that in the course of the assembly between USTR and Bangladeshi enterprises, US representatives introduced up the significance of appreciable enhancements in commerce unions, wages, and different areas of staff’ rights.

“They known as for a legislation permitting commerce unions to prepare in each common areas and EPZs. They is probably not content material with the circumstances, although. 4 folks misplaced their lives throughout extra wage rise protests. It had an impact, too,” he continued.

He added that as a result of the coverage applies to all sectors, the state of affairs exterior the RMG sector is insufficient and regarding for Bangladesh.

“Any business, individual, firm, or particular product could also be topic to sanctions or limitations in accordance with the coverage. Earlier, such kind of restrictions wanted UN approval, however now it received’t want any of this, which worries Bangladesh,” he added.

Have staff’ rights improved sufficient according to infrastructural improvement? 

Kalpona Akter mentioned that there was a big enchancment within the constructing security and infrastructure. “However nonetheless staff’ rights lag behind. We face huge challenges in forming any commerce unions. There are nonetheless invisible political points in forming unions.”

She additionally mentioned that enchancment in staff’ rights in different industries is negligible which is an issue. 

Professor Mustafizur Rahman mentioned that there are gaps within the staff’ rights, commerce union formation, maternity leaves, unions in EPZs, SEZs and many others.

Why USA issues

The USA is the biggest export vacation spot for Bangladesh RMG from the place it earned $8.51 billion in FY23 (18.12% of complete RMG exports).

The exporters had been already confused a few decline in development. Export to the USA witnessed a decline of three.05% to $2.57 billion in July-October interval of FY24 (17.45% of complete RMG exports).

Sparrow Group is without doubt one of the largest exporters to the US market and their patrons are probably the most iconic manufacturers of the nation.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Shovon Islam, managing director of the corporate, mentioned that he’s extraordinarily involved concerning the coverage.

“They’ll impose sanctions on any explicit business, enterprise, people, any product and even on the entire nation. I’m extraordinarily involved that in the event that they do it, I don’t know what I’ll do with my corporations and my 14,000 staff,” he added.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman mentioned that the US is the biggest vacation spot for Bangladeshi merchandise, so Bangladesh wants to deal with this subject. 


Industries want sturdy labour rights implementation

Professor Mustafizur Rahman steered that the RMG business ought to deal with compliance to fill the hole concerning labour rights and commerce unions.

He additionally urged to resolve the problems concerning forming commerce unions within the Labour Act (modification) 2020.

Kalpona Akter mentioned that the sector ought to have such good staff’ rights that no person can level a finger at Bangladesh. 

“If your own home is out of order then you definately give others the chance to criticize you, don’t give others the possibility to inform you to sort things at residence, do it your self,” she added.

The RMG business ought to create alternatives to speak with real staff’ representatives concerning staff’ rights, she mentioned.

She additionally warned the way in which the employees’ motion is being handled in Bangladesh doesn’t ship a very good message to the world.

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