Procedure : 2015/2589(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0366/2015

Texts tabled :

B8-0366/2015

Debates :

Votes :

PV 29/04/2015 - 10.66
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2015)0175

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 259kWORD 69k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0363/2015
27.4.2015
PE555.140v01-00
 
B8-0366/2015

to wind up the debate on the statements by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure


on the anniversary of the Bangladesh factory fires and progress of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact (2015/2589(RSP))


Tiziana Beghin, David Borrelli on behalf of the EFDD Group

European Parliament resolution on the anniversary of the Bangladesh factory fires and progress of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact (2015/2589(RSP))  
B8‑0366/2015

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions on Bangladesh, in particular those of 23 May 2013 on labour conditions and health and safety standards following the recent factory fires and building collapse in Bangladesh(1), 17 January 2013 on recent casualties in textile factory fires, notably in Bangladesh(2), and 14 March 2013 on the situation in Bangladesh(3) and on sustainability in the global cotton value chain(4),

–       having regard to the joint statement of 8 July 2014 by former European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and former Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor on the occasion of the first-year review of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact,

–       having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Partnership and Development(5),

–       having regard to the ILO Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health (2006, C-187) and the Occupational Safety and Health Convention (1981, C-155), which have not been ratified by Bangladesh, as well as to their respective recommendations (R 197); having regard also to the Labour Inspection Convention (1947, C-081), to which Bangladesh is a signatory, and to its recommendations (R-164),

–       having regard to its resolutions of 25 November 2010 on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements(6) and on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(7),

–       having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (COM(2011)0681) and to the last Multi‑Stakeholder Forum on CSR, which took place on 3-4 February 2015,

–       having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which set a framework for both governments and companies to protect and respect human rights, as endorsed by the Human Rights Council in June 2011,

–       having regard to the Clean Clothes Campaign,

–       having regard to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety,

–       having regard to the Better Work Programme launched by the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC),

–       having regard to the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire and Building Safety for the Ready-Made Garment Sector in Bangladesh,

–       having regard to the conclusions of the ILO’s high-level mission to Bangladesh of 1-4 May 2013,

–       having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.     whereas on 24 April 2013, more than 1 100 people died and some 2 500 were injured in the garment factory collapse at the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, making it the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment industry;

B.     whereas the owner of the Rana Plaza and 40 people owning factories housed in the building complex had criminal charges filed against them, on the grounds that the building had been constructed illegally and had developed massive structural problems, yet workers were forced to continue working despite their fears over safety;

C.     whereas the European market is the largest duty-free quota export destination for Bangladeshi apparel and textile products, accounting for around 90 % of the EU’s total imports from the country, under the most favourable regime available under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), namely Everything But Arms (EBA);

D.     whereas prior to the accident the Bangladeshi garment industry employed about three million people, more than any other industrial segment in a country of 160 million, and after the building’s collapse 29 factories were permanently closed, with severe consequences for workers’ rights and the unemployment rate in the country;

E.     whereas child labour elimination in 1994, the continuity of export growth after the MFA quota phase-out, and the global recession are evident proof of the government’s commitment to changing the current situation;

F.     whereas so far USD 21.5 million has been paid into the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund through contributions from buyers, the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Fund and other private donors, and whereas at least USD 30 million is needed to cover compensation claims; whereas to date claimants have only received a maximum of 70 % of what they are owed, with further payments delayed as a result of the failure of brands to pay the USD 8.5 million needed to complete the scheme;

G.     whereas the current compensation fund will not be able to pay the medical costs of those victims requiring long-term medical care, nor the supplementary payments earmarked for deceased and injured workers;

H.     whereas the Rana Plaza disaster prompted the EU to forge, together with the Government of Bangladesh, the US and the ILO, the ‘Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labour Rights and Factory Safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh’ (the Sustainability Compact) in July 2013, where Bangladesh committed to take action to improve labour standards and working conditions in the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry;

I.      whereas the first review of the Compact took place in October 2014 and concluded that, while progress had been made, further important steps had to be taken by the Government of Bangladesh, notably regarding the improvement and implementation of the Labour Law, improving labour rights, in particular freedom of association, and the hiring of more labour inspectors;

J.      whereas the second review of the Compact will take place in autumn 2015 and we expect further efforts on the governmental commitment to the rule of law, particularly with regard to anti-union discrimination and the recruitment of new inspectors after the government failure to reach its goal of 200 by the end of 2013;

K.     whereas one and a half years on, the Government of Bangladesh has yet to issue the implementing rules and regulations for the Labour Law; whereas the implementation of the Law is a necessary condition for eligibility to the ILO Better Work Programme and for the functioning of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (the Accord);

L.     whereas 291 trade unions have been registered in the garment sector since the launch of the Compact; whereas in 2014, 66 applications, which amount to 26 % of all applications filed, were rejected; whereas at least 45 serious acts of anti-unionism by a wide range of actors have been reported since the launch of the Compact;

M.    whereas the government has contracted two private-sector firms (TÜV-Süd and VEC) to complete inspections under the National Action Plan (NAP) by April 2015; whereas around 20 % of the safety issues in the Corrective Action Plans of Accord factories have been remedied;

N.     whereas at present almost 200 fashion and retail brands have signed up to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions covering almost half of all Bangladeshi factories for the export market and two million workers; whereas 26 other North American companies, such as Walmart and Gap, have signed up to the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a unilateral agreement aiming at improving safety in factories, which, however, does not include any role for trade unions or a requirement that brands support remediation;

O.     whereas the Government of Bangladesh and the ILO have launched a USD 24.21 million initiative – including a new Better Work programme – aimed at improving working conditions in the ready‐made garment industry in Bangladesh; whereas the three‐and‐a‐half -year initiative ‘Improving Working Conditions in the Ready‐Made Garment Sector’ (RMGP) focuses on minimising the threat of fire and building collapse in ready‐made garment factories and on ensuring the rights and safety of workers;

P.     whereas Bangladesh has made great strides in reducing the gender gap in society, having successfully achieved the third UN Millennium Development Goal on gender equality; whereas women make up about 90 % of the 4-million-strong workforce in the garment sector;

Q.     whereas the minimum wages of the garment workers have been significantly increased by 219 % over the past five years through governmental reforms;

1.      Remembers the tragic and preventable loss of the victims on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy; extends its condolences to those injured or handicapped as well as to the bereaved families and condemns those responsible for failing to prevent such a disaster;

2.      Welcomes the continued Bangladeshi efforts to effectively implement in law and practices the international labour standards embodied in the fundamental ILO Conventions and to improve the overall framework in the area of occupational safety and health;

3.      Stresses the need for a number of globally recognised brands, operating on the premises or linked to the Rana Plaza factories, to provide adequate payments into the Rana Plaza Compensation Fund to fill the gap of USD 8.5 million needed to complete the scheme without any delay;

4.      Calls on the responsibility of important brands, including Benetton, Walmart, Mango and The Children’s Place, to contribute to the Fund through appropriate donations that do not fall far short of expectations;

5.      Suggests that the EU set up a pilot project for introducing a labelling scheme in Bangladesh – clothes produced under higher standards could be marked with a specific label to enable European consumers and producers to make informed choices;

6.      Notes that the Accord and the Alliance have completed the inspections of all factories under their remit; urges the Government of Bangladesh to complement such action by swiftly carrying out the inspection of the factories under its responsibility and to adopt adequate remedial actions; encourages the Accord and the Alliance to improve their cooperation and systematically exchange reports of factory inspections to avoid duplication of work and double standards; calls on the Alliance also to publish its reports and to provide them with pictures so that they can be accessible to everyone in the country;

7.      Welcomes the recent increase in the minimum wage in the RMG sector and encourages more universal and concrete implementation; urges the Bangladeshi Government to sanction companies that undercut this wage; encourages the government and the companies to keep reviewing the minimum wage with a view to reaching the level of a living wage and to better reflect the final price of the product;

8.      Encourages all necessary steps, with support from the ILO, to further improve exercise of freedom of association, ensure collective bargaining and the application of the national Labour Law to Export Processing Zones, which are employing more than 400 000 workers in garments and footwear, including ensuring that the Ministry of Labour inspectors and other regulatory agencies have full authority and responsibility to conduct inspections; encourages the government to regularly organise surveys among the workers to evaluate compliance with the Labour Law, also facilitating the exchange of data with the Ministry of Labour inspectors and the other stakeholders, both public and private, involved in this field;

9.      Underlines the importance of achieving eligibility for the Better Work Programme in order to improve compliance with labour standards and to promote competitiveness in global supply chains in the RMG and knitwear industry;

10.    Welcomes the registration of 291 garment trade unions since the launch of the Sustainability Compact and calls for the 2013 reform to the Labour Act to be effectively implemented, including the fight against the rampant anti-union discrimination suffered by trade union leaders through violent retaliations by management or their agents; encourages a more open and active role of trade unions and civil society organisations in the Bangladeshi debate and especially in the debate about the labour market and labour market standards;

11.    Urges completion of the upgrading of the Department of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Establishments to a Directorate with a strength of 800 inspectors, having adequate annual budget allocation, and the development of the infrastructure required for its proper functioning, which are essential for the safety and control of the working conditions of 4 million workers, and asks the Government to grant them the power to penalise labour law violations;

12.    Welcomes the fact that over 70 major fashion and retail brands sourcing RMG from Bangladesh have signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety to coordinate their efforts to help improve safety in Bangladesh’s factories which supply them; in this context, encourages the appropriate involvement of other companies, including SMEs, to join and help with effective implementation of the Accord;

13.    Calls on the Commission actively to promote stronger and legally binding tools among EU companies operating abroad, with a special focus on ensuring compliance in practice with the fundamental labour rights in all supply chains;

14.    Requests that in future EU trade agreements with third countries, occupational safety and health should take a more prominent place as part of the decent work agenda, and that the EU provide technical support for the implementation of these provisions so that they do not constitute a barrier to trade;

15.    Notes that the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative has played an important role in Bangladesh’s economic development and has contributed to improving material conditions for millions of people, in particular women; is convinced, however, that without sound conditionality in the area of human and labour rights, EBA and GSP risk exacerbating low standards in worker protection and undermining decent work;

16.    Hopes that the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh could be an example for other third countries with which the Union is negotiating or intending to negotiate Free Trade and/or Investment Agreements and where ILO standards and labour conditions are not sufficiently implemented;

17.    Encourages VP/HR Mogherini and Commissioner Malmström to continue to include the ratification of core ILO standards, health and safety inspection and freedom of association in discussions with Bangladesh and other countries on continued preferential trade; in this regard, welcomes the Commission Recommendations to join the Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labour Rights and Practices in Myanmar/Burma;

18.    Encourages the European Union fashion and clothing brands, SMEs and other private‑sector companies active in Bangladesh to implement all possible measures to reduce the possibility of other disasters like the Raza Plaza tragedy;

19.    Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Government and Parliament of Bangladesh and the Director General of the ILO.

 

(1)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0230.

(2)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0027.

(3)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0100.

(4)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0099.

(5)

OJ L 118, 27.4.2001, p. 48.

(6)

OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 31.

(7)

OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.

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