Bangladesh Promises To Make Improvements In Working Conditions

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Bangladesh building collapse
A woman cries as she waits for news of her relative, a garment worker who is still missing, after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, outside Dhaka, on May 3, 2013

The U.N. announced on Saturday that Bangladeshi lawmakers had come to an agreement with the International Labor Organization about how best to improve the working conditions of the country's 150 million-plus people. 

ILO representatives visited Bangladesh from May 1 - 4 to asses Bangladesh's working conditions after at least 547 people died in April when a garment factory used for producing cheap clothing collapsed near Dhaka, the capital, according to the Associated Press

Bangladesh will be required to submit an assessment to the ILO at the end of the year covering “structural building safety and fire safety of all active export-oriented ready-made garment factories in Bangladesh, and initiate remedial actions, including relocation of unsafe factories,” the ILO said in a statement. The ILO also "strongly recommended" that the government hire 200 extra inspectors within six months. 

The deal will "improve protection, in law and practice, for the fundamental rights to freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, as well as occupational safety and health."

"There is a high road to export competitiveness that leads to inclusive growth and poverty reduction," Gilber Houngbo, an ILO deputy director, said in a statement. "There is a low road to competitiveness, too. However, it leads to the tragedies you are living with today.  Furthermore it is not a road out of poverty. It is a trap where low productivity, poor working conditions, and low value-added production block social and economic progress."

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