A new US$2.5m project aimed at strengthening labour rights and improving worker safety within Bangladesh's ready-made garment sector has been launched. 

The one-year project aims to build on existing work by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in promoting labour rights, supporting dialogue between employers, workers and the government, labour compliance, freedom of association, and collective bargaining. 

‘Promoting Fundamental Rights at Work and Labour Relations in Export Oriented Industries in Bangladesh' is being funded by the Norwegian government. 

It is also being implemented in the leather and shrimp processing industries. 

A two-day training programme is being attended by various managers and compliance officers from affiliated factories of the Leathergoods & Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB).

The aim is to train up to 4,000 workers and employers on labour rights and encourage more government and industrial relations organisations to improve worker health and safety by implementing the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Integrity of Structure.

Speaking at the launch in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka yesterday (16 March), Merete Lundemo, Ambassador of Norway to Bangladesh, said: "Everybody must enjoy basic workers' rights, work in an environment where standards are respected, and receive their share of the wealth created.

"We want all companies to be familiar with the national law and international standards. Enhancing labour rights and standards will enhance business."

Khondaker Mostan Hossain, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Labour and Employment for the Government of Bangladesh, noted that collaboration between employers and workers "can contribute to effective implementation of law."