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Interview with Radio France: BGMEA President Dr. Rubana Huq projects real picture of industry

BGMEA President Dr. Rubana Huq gave an interview to Radio France where her bid was to change the one-sided perceptions about the industry through projecting its real picture to the world. Following is the transcript of the interview translated into English:

By the end of 2013, more than 200 brands such as Adidas, Hugo Boss and Carrefour had signed the Accord on safety in the textile industry, a text that imposes binding rules on operators: installation of fire extinguishers, fire doors, emergency exits or upgrading of electrical systems.

According to Rubana Huq, President of the BGMEA, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Rana Plaza marked a turning point. "All the factories have cleaned up their structures because nobody wants a new Rana Plaza. We go from factory to factory and monitor progress step by step. In case of non-compliance, we cancel the export license, so we take punitive measures. We're very active in tracking down any vulnerabilities. But you know a fire can happen anywhere. Our priority is to be able to contain it and avoid loss of life at all costs. So far fortunately that's been the case."

No new major accidents since 2013, but the reality is that textile workers in Bangladesh earn a miserable wage, while the sector brings more than 20 billion euros to the economy every year.Trade unions are demanding a minimum wage of €160 per month. But on this subject, Rubana Huq, the boss of Bangladeshi bosses, is taking a back seat. "I don't think the unions' demands are irrational. But there's a problem, it's the buyers. Are the brands paying more for our goods? No, they aren't. Since the last pay raise, none of the major clothing brands have put in a penny more. In fact, it's the other way around. In 4 years, the purchase price in the European Union has fallen by more than 3% and it's worse on the American side, with a drop of 7%. If this is the scenario, where are we going to get the money?"

Why not in the state coffers? What if the Bangladeshi government puts its hand in its pocket to support the textile industry and guarantee workers decent living conditions? Bangladesh's ambassador to France, Kazi Imtiaz Hossain, cautiously replied: "The Rana Plaza served as a detonator. This drama shook the country and provoked several initiatives. There was the international agreement but also a national action plan in Bangladesh. The state has moved closer to the textile industries, both to secure the sector, but also to ensure good working conditions for the workers.  Are we putting enough money into it? There will never be enough, but we believe that given our resources and the importance of the textile sector, both in terms of income and social impact, the government is genuinely supporting the industry to help it develop, but also to be internationally competitive."

The Bangladeshi authorities assure that after 7 years of co-management, they are able to manage everything, salaries and security, without the help of the international community. False and dangerous retorts the global consortium of workers' rights, for whom the 4 million Bangladeshi textile workers must not be abandoned.