Social Compliance Initiative Bangladesh
Social Compliance Initiative – Bangladesh (SCIB) is an independent service provider in the area of social, labor, ethical and environmental standers relevant to RMG sector in Bangladesh. SCIB’s main objectives are to assess, upgrade and improve work place conditions; activities focus on the areas of labor and workplace standard, strengthening management and workers relationship, increase productivity towards promoting responsible business practices and sustainable workplace management system.
The Bangladesh RMG sector, which has seen an enormous growth over the past 15 years, is one of the largest exporters of RMG in the world, higher than its South and Southeast Asian neighbors and competitors. Presently, there are about 5,000-garment factories located in and around Dhaka and Chittagong cities with a workforce of 2.5 million – 80% of them being women and 15% are young women (more than 60% under 24 years and nearly half are unmarried).Most of the factories are located in Dhaka, Chittagong, Narayanganj, Tongi, Savar and Gazipur with an escalating presence in the export Promotion Zone..
Meanwhile, with the rapid change in the environment of world trade due to globalisation and trade liberalisation under the WTO regime, countries that had so long been protected by the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA), now facing the challenges of free market competition with the final MFA phase-out in December 2004. With the quotas having come to an end, the importing countries are no longer able to discriminate between the exporting countries. While the WTO regime has removed the tariff barriers, immense importance has been attached to the non-tariff barriers. These non-tariff barriers include maintaining standards of quality and ensuring commitment towards social compliance. Consumers in the western countries today are interested in more than mere price and product quality in the production of garments worldwide; they are concerned about the manner of the total process in which the product is made.
In the post-MFA era, global sourcing became an integral part of international trade. In the process of globalization and increasing free trade, growing needs is to support social and ethical standards in sourcing and purchasing of goods. SCIB, to protect the RMG sector of Bangladesh as well as ensure workers rights and their livelihood security, has initiated a series of activities including research, seminars, producing documentary film, conducting media advocacy, etc, to create awareness among the government, manufacturers and international buyers about the present condition of compliance in the garments factories of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the GOB is also under immense pressure from international buyers to ensure compliance in the factories to get share of the international market. Thus, the only way the RMG sector can survive in this era is by becoming compliant. To assist in this work, SCIB has undertaken an initiative to help establish compliance in the RMG sector of Bangladesh.
- To create awareness among the factory owners about compliance issues and its importance;
- To identify areas that require to be improved in respective factories;
- To work on a corrective action plan for the improvement of compliance; and
- To help the garments factories to attain an expected level of compliance, so that they can satisfy renowned buyers and make the factories self-sustaining in the global market.
WHAT IS COMPLIANCE?
To know what compliance is, we first need to know what Corporate Code of Conduct is.
A Corporate Code of Conduct is a document, outlining the basic rights and minimum standards a corporation pledges to respect in its relation with workers, communities and the environment. Thus, the challenges ahead for the RMG factories now include strict adherence to the local laws, ILO conventions and the best practices to meet the challenges of globalization and competition. And complying with the code of conduct is Compliance. In other words, the code of conduct or compliance is a set of codes/rules, buyers emphasize on to be maintained by their supplier company.
- With the exit of MFA, tariff barriers; have given way to non-tariff barriers that is much importance is now attached to standards of quality of RMG products and factory’s commitment towards ensuring social compliance.
- Country law, buyers, customers all want to ensure that the production process does not involve child labor, any form of forced labor, working condition meets the health and safety standards and the factory follows all the norms and rules of standard specification.
- Both the American & European buyers are insisting on strict compliance with the Corporate Code of Conduct as a precondition for importing garments from Bangladesh.
- The motivation behind social standards in global procurement of goods is to improve the social and ethical standards of work force and bring all sourcing areas to a possible equal level of standard.
WHAT SCIB DOES?
SCIB conduct compliance audit in those factories, expresses their interests to participate in this project voluntarily. Based on the findings, SCIB provides the factory management a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to rectify the shortcomings in order to become compliant. SCIB provide all necessary technical assistance and consultancy services to develop compliance according to the CAP. SCIB closely work with the factory management and workers towards capacity building with regular follow-up and monitoring for six months from the date of audit.
SCIB’s strength in monitoring & evaluation:
- Clear understanding on compliance aspects (which ones are most important).
- Understand legal & other requirements (which ones are mandatory).
- Develop strategy for continual improvement (what should we do & how?)
- Clear & meaningful objectives.
- Measurable targets.
Capacity building for management and workers
- Training on Social Compliance Issues for factory’s top & mid management.
- Training on Social Compliance Issues for factory’s floor level mid management, Compliance Officer, Welfare Officer.
- Training on productivity for factory management.
- Training on roles & responsibilities for workers.
- Training on Occupational and Environmental Health & Safety for Management and Workers.
Technical Assistance to Workers and Management
- Documentation and System Development;
- Formation and operational system of Workers Welfare Committee (WWC), Workers Participation Committee and Worker-Management relation Dev.
- Child Care Center set up;
- Assessment and proper functioning of ETP.
SCIB’s compliance development program focuses on:
- Management and documentation.
- Employment & occupation.
- Working hours, benefits and compensation.
- Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety
- Workplace environment
- Environmental protection
A full-compliant garment factory enjoys the following benefits:
- Can work directly with reputed buyers.
- Have consistency in order.
- Gets higher price of product.
- Free from labor unrest.
- Reduce workers turnover rates.
- Increased workers morality.
- Increased productivity and product quality.
- Have global image and global recognition for their performance.
- Good public / community relations.
- Improved government – industry relation
- We are here to actually help.
- We are not here to find faults.
- We are in the same team.
- Together we can find opportunities.
- This benefits your business.
Mashuda Khatun Shefali
Social Compliance Initiative Bangladesh
7/77, Babar Road, Block-B, Mohammadpur,
Phone: 880-2-9117777, 8127777,