The European Union's representative in Bangladesh has expressed dissatisfaction at the country's progress towards improving worker and building safety in the apparel industry.

"No, I'm not satisfied. There's been some progress and lot more needs to be done," William Hanna, EU Ambassador to Bangladesh, said yesterday (9 March).

Progress on a number of issues, including paying compensation to victims of last April's Rana Plaza building collapse, worker rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining, and payment of minimum wages, are not satisfactory, the EU envoy said.

"It's a good thing that the minimum wage has been increased, but it's not good to hear that it's not applied [in some factories]."

Bangladesh increased the minimum wage for ready-made garment workers by nearly 77% to BDT5,300 (US$68.18) per month at entry-level in December last year.

The EU ambassador said Bangladesh would face "uncomfortable questions" from the global community about compensation and safety issues one year after the Rana Plaza collapse in which at least 1,133 people died and about 2,500 were injured.

Hanna was speaking on Sunday at the sidelines of an event arranged by CARE Bangladesh on 'Lives beyond Machines - A Reflection on Priorities for Women in the RMG Sector.' The project  is funded by the EU.   

Bangladesh is now the second largest garment exporter after China. The country has around 4,000 active garment factories, employing more than 4m people, 80% of whom are women.

Garment exports accounted for 80% or $21.5bn of the country's total overseas shipments worth $27bn in fiscal 2012/13, according to statistics from the state-run Export Promotion Bureau.