Dems push for new Bangladesh labor laws

 

Two senior Democrats are urging the Bangladeshi government to adopt new labor laws on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse.

In a Wednesday letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. George Miller (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said that the country's labor reforms since the accident fell short.

One year ago, the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory killed 1,138 workers and injured another 2,500. 

"We have met with workers who survived the Rana Plaza building collapse and the family members of those who did not. Physical and psychological scars remain. Economic hardship persists. We are committed to ensuring that every step is taken to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occur again," Levin and Miller wrote.

Bangladesh's trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences program were suspended in June 2013 in response to the collapse. Levin and Miller said that those trade benefits could be reinstated if Bangladesh implements new labor reforms.

Levin and Miller highlighted five issues for the Bangladeshi government: union protections, trade union membership, export processing zone laws, establishment of a public database listing factory inspection results, and an investigation of a labor rights leader's murder. Those suggestions were part of the Labor Action Plan drafted by the U.S. government after Bangladesh's trade benefits were suspended last year.

"We believe it is critical for the Government of Bangladesh to take stronger steps to fully implement the Bangladesh Action Plan that was issued as a road map for reinstating trade benefits," the lawmakers wrote.