Efforts to improve working conditions in the Bangladesh ready-made garment sector have taken a step forward with the recruitment of 41 new labour inspectors who are undergoing training this week.

The move is an important part of the government's commitment to improve labour standards and implement national legislation, and is being overseen with help from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The new labour inspectors will be part of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), and are being trained by the ILO and Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German Agency for Development Cooperation.

Key issues covered in the training include the role of labour inspectors within the framework of the Bangladesh economy and legal structure, the ILO fundamental principles and rights at work, features of a credible and transparent labour inspection system, national labour law, and inspection techniques.

The training is taking place within the framework of an ILO project launched in October aimed at 'Improving working conditions in the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh,' as well as 'Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry' (PSES), a joint project between the governments of Bangladesh and Germany.

The new hirings a "significant milestone to reduce the risk of future tragedies in the ready-made garments sector," according to ILO country director Srinivas Reddy.

The ILO is in the process of launching a Better Work Bangladesh programme to provide factory-level services including assessments of compliance with national labour laws and international standards, as well as advisory and training services to improve working conditions for garment workers.

And the US government has set out a series of steps that Bangladesh needs to implement - including more labour, fire and building inspectors - if it wants trade preferences to be restored.

"The training of the newly recruited labour inspectors is a sign of the implementation of the commitments that the government of Bangladesh and the development partners have made to ensure safety of ready-made garments workers," said labour and employment secretary Mikail Shipar.

The ILO ready-made garment project is funded by Canada, DFID and the Netherlands. The PSES programme is co-funded by the EU.