Bangladesh: Latest apparel and textile news & analysis
More than 170 companies have now signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka, which killed more than 1,100 people last year.
The group of North American brands and retailers - including Wal-Mart Stores, Gap Inc and VF Corporation - working to improve safety in Bangladesh's ready-made garment factories appears to be sourcing more products from the country as efforts to upgrade the industry take hold. But one year on, progress is "far from over", with the total cost likely to be in the region of $150m and take 12-18 another months to complete.
A growing list of differences appears to be breaking out between groups working to improve factory and building safety for garment workers in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's share of the US apparel market has been in decline since February this year. But a closer look at the figures shows that while it is holding up in basic men's wear, women's wear fashion is on a downward trajectory.
Tau Investment Management, the US private investment firm that is looking to drive capital into textile and garment factories to improve their competitiveness and de-risk supply chains, has told just-style it is moving swiftly towards its first investments - which are expected in the second half of 2014.
Tuba Group workers are understood to have set a 25 September deadline for the Bangladesh government to pay their compensation or face demonstrations before Eid.
Bangladesh's apparel exports edged up by 1.7% in the first two months of the current fiscal year as buyers continue to remain cautious following last year's factory safety issues and subsequent strikes and disruption as a pay rise was negotiated for apparel workers.
The International Labour Organization-backed fund for victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy has distributed BDT108m (US$1.4m) to 700 cases.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has reiterated its "good and real progress" towards making the country's ready-made garment industry safe, but says there is still more work to do.
Latest efforts to help speed up inspections at garment factories in Bangladesh have seen 95 motorcycles handed over to government labour inspectors.
A new event launching later this year in Bangladesh is being billed as a one-stop sourcing platform for all aspects of jeanswear, from denim fabric and garments to production equipment.
As part of ongoing efforts to improve working conditions in Bangladesh's garment sector, VF Corp is partnering with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to provide up to US$10m in financing for fire and building safety upgrades in its supplier factories.
A decision by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to reject inspection reports produced by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety for some factories shared by the two groups has been described as a "setback" for garment factory safety efforts in the country.
A project is underway in Bangladesh designed to increase union membership and promote a constructive dialogue with employers.
The boss of the Tuba Group is seeking a BDT300m (US$3.88m) government loan to reopen his five apparel factories, which were forced to suspend production earlier this month after workers went on strike.
The explosive growth of the Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry is more likely to be accompanied by accusations of sweatshop exploitation from labour rights activists than praise for the positive opportunities it brings the sector's largely-women workforce.
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