The newly elected board of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has pledged to work with buyers and retailers to improve fire safety standards in apparel factories.

"We'll work to ensure fire safety measures for the workers in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector as a priority," Atiqul Islam, newly elected president of the BGMEA, told just-style in Dhaka on Friday (22 March).

Islam, also managing director of Islam Dresses Limited, said the BGMEA will seek co-operation from buyers and retailers to ensure fire safety measures and the welfare of the workers.

Islam and the rest of the board were appointed in the BGMEA's biennial elections. The newly elected leaders formally took over their responsibilities at the BGMEA's annual meeting on 25 March.

The BGMEA said it will try to increase productivity through improving the level of efficiency using the latest technologies in the apparel sector.

"We'll have to increase our productivity for increasing competitiveness in the global market," said Islam, adding that the BGMEA plans introduce industrial engineering to minimise the cost of production.

The BGMEA is also working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to introduce the Better Work Programme for the textile and clothing sector in Bangladesh.

Better Work is a partnership programme between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) that aims to improve labour standards compliance and promote competitiveness in global supply chains, particularly in labour intensive industries.