Working conditions in Bangladesh

  • Women play a vital role in the Bangladesh garment sector, a collection of photos to mark International Women’s Day highlights the actions of ILO’s RMG programme funded by Canada, the Netherlands and UK to empower women in the sector.

  • Pushpa Rani Shaha, gives a victory wave to fellow workers who recently elected her as a member of the factory Participation Committee (PC). ILO, through its Better Work programme has supported participation of women in PC elections.

  • Better Work is supporting female workers who are pregnant or have recently given birth. This can reduce absenteeism, boosts workforce morale and helps retain skilled staff.

  • A woman labour inspector travels to a factory on a motor scooty. With support from the ILO, the labour inspectorate in Bangladesh has become more gender responsive and recruited more women labour inspectors.

  • More women workers are now making the jump from the sewing line to supervisory positions as a result of Better Work Bangladesh’s skills development initiatives.

  • Trade unions have a vital role in ensuring workplace safety. The ILO RMG programme has placed emphasis on building awareness of women union members on occupational safety and health.

  • The ILO RMG programme through Better Work Bangladesh has worked with garment factories to create better awareness of sexual harassment issues and how to prevent it.

  • For survivors, the road to recovery following Rana Plaza has been long and hard. ILO’s RMG programme has supported survivors to gain new livelihoods skills as well as provided them with psychosocial and medical support.

A labour inspector at work
See more photos on ILO Bangladesh Flickr photo library 
Following the Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza collapse ILO has placed considerable emphasis on enhancing safety and working conditions in the ready-made garment sector, a sector which accounts for some 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s export earnings and employs an estimated 4.2 million workers.

Major initiatives are being undertaken to inspect RMG factories for structural and fire safety. The capacity of the Labour Inspectorate and the Fire Service and Civil Defence Department is being significantly enhanced. Levels of coordination and collaboration are also being built so that these bodies are able to take on an effective regulatory oversight role in the coming years once external support ends.

Occupational safety and health remains an issue with support being provided to implementing the National Occupational Safety Health (OSH) policy. Employers and workers organisations are taking an active role in training mid-level managers, supervisors and trade union leaders on occupational health issues. Meanwhile, at factory level the Better Work programme is helping to set up structures boosting worker-management relations so that workers play a role in improving their workplace conditions.