Joint press release issued by:
Logo: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Logo: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Ministers Müller and Nahles call for more justice and sustain­ability world­wide in the textiles sector

Factory in Bangladesh where social and environmental standards are respected

24.04.2014 |

Today, one year on from the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, Ministers Gerd Müller and Andrea Nahles are calling on the textiles industry to commit to a common set of social and environ­mental standards in the coun­tries where their goods are produced.

Nahles commented, "We shouldn't just expect good working conditions to be in place within our own coun­try. People's personal health and safety at work should be guaranteed every­where in the world. In Germany, we foster good working conditions through the minimum wage and the social partner­ship that exists between employers' and workers' representatives. Both nationally and inter­nationally, we are helping companies to meet their global responsibilities. The instruments already exist, not least the ILO Decent Work Agenda. But as the sad incident at Rana Plaza showed, it still needs to be more stringently applied both by govern­ments and industry. That is what I am pressing for."

Minister Müller added, "We can no longer accept the often inhuman conditions in which people employed in the textiles industry live and work in Asia and Africa. Germany can and must take a leading role in efforts to improve working conditions."

The two ministers also condemned as unacceptable the fact that inter­national textile companies had so far only put up one third of the promised money for the fund administered by the Inter­national Labour Organization (ILO) to compensate the victims of the Rana Plaza accident.

Minister Müller said, "Far too little has happened in the year since the disaster. Victims and their families are still waiting for compensation – some of it owed by German companies. Yet the people in Bangladesh urgently need that money. We call on the companies concerned to respond quickly."

The collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh was the worst accident ever to occur in the textiles sector. Over 1130 people were killed and 2000 injured, some of them seriously. The victims included many women, who make up most of the work­force in the textiles industry in Bangladesh.

Through its de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion, Germany is supporting Bangladesh with the intro­duction and observance of social and environ­mental standards in the textiles industry. Measures include information and education campaigns, training courses and gov­ern­ment labour inspectors to conduct checks in the factories. The German gov­ern­ment provided immediate assistance after the Rana Plaza disaster, with help ranging from medical treat­ment to the recording of victims. It is also helping those who sustained serious physical injury with their recovery and return to work.

On Wednesday, April 30, the Federal Ministry for Economic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment will be holding the first Round Table on the Textiles Industry, to which Minister Müller has invited representatives of textiles companies, trade unions and civil society.

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