The U.S. government is soliciting ideas for improving safety standards in garment factories in Bangladesh.
The Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs yesterday 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 garment workers in 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. The Government of 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 organizations 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 Labor says its funding of technical assistance represents one important element in a broader strategy to address these issues. The department plans to 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 organizations to effectively monitor violations of fire and building safety standards and abate related hazards in the ready-made garment sector.
Applications must be submitted by August 2, 2013, at 5 p.m. EDT electronically via http://www.grants.gov, or as hard copies mailed to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Procurement Services, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room S-4307, Washington, DC 20210, Attention: Brenda White.