Textile working conditions in Pakistan need to improve amid “major irregularities” in the industry, according to a Dutch government Minister.

Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, spoke while visiting textile factories across the region – and announced Dutch government funding for an ILO (International Labour Organization) project to follow up her findings.

“The spotlight is on Bangladesh, but reports from Pakistan suggest major irregularities in the textile industry, she said.

“Safety and working conditions are well regulated in many factories, but there are many others which are unsafe and where workers are paid less than the minimum wage. So there is room for improvement in Pakistan too.”

Ploumen highlighted a textile factory supplying companies including Dutch firm Hema as an example of good practice, pointing to its school for workers’ children, gender specialist and worker housing.

But she said smaller facilities and companies targeting the domestic market tended to have poorer working and safety conditions, as well as being responsible for high levels of pollution.

Ploumen also highlighted a textile factory fire in Karachi in 2012, which killed nearly 300 workers.