Category Archives: International Business Pages

Bangladesh: Improving Safety in the Garment Industry

An ILO programme is helping garment factories in Bangladesh improve safety and minimize the risk of another tragedy like the one that claimed more than 1,100 lives in 2013.

Anwar Hossain, General Manager of the Towel Tex factory says he had never heard of the labour inspectorate before the April 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza, in the outskirts of Dhaka – one of the worst industrial disasters in recent history.

The tragedy claimed the lives of 1,136 people and injured many more. It also galvanized national and international action to improve safety at garment factories in Bangladesh, which supply many of the world’s clothing brands. The eight-story Rana Plaza housed five such factories.

In the aftermath of the disaster, the immediate priority was to assess the structural, electrical and fire safety of more than 3,600 export-oriented garment factories. Of the total, more than 1,500, including Towel Tex, were inspected with support from the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Following the inspection recommendations, the factory made a number of changes including building a wall between the dyeing shed and the boiler room, widened walkways on the factory floor, installing exit lights and developing an evacuation plan.

Anwar Hossain also recognizes the more active role of the labour inspectorate, which ILO has worked closely with since Rana Plaza to build its capacity and effectiveness.

“I had never even heard of the Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments. But now we have regular surprise inspections, almost one a quarter,” says Hossain. And that, he says, helps him improve safety in the factory. “We want to be compliant, but without inspections we could never be sure.”
The ILO responded rapidly to the Rana Plaza disaster by working with the Government, employers’ and workers’ organizations to develop a national plan of action to improve fire and building safety. In order to help implement the plan, the ILO, with support from Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, launched the Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector Programme in September 2013.

Never again

The main goal of the programme is to enhance safety in factories so that the country should never again experience a tragedy like the Rana Plaza collapse.

Training in occupational safety and health (OSH) is an important component of the programme. Shahidul Islam, Deputy Compliance Manager for the Masco Group – a major garment producer – says he learned a lot about chemical safety during the training, something critical considering hundreds of different chemicals are used in the production process and stored in the factory warehouses. “After the training I decided to bring in a number of changes. This was much more than simply rearranging a bunch of bottles on a shelf, and required a lot of work. But we managed to pull it off.” As one of the master trainers trained by the ILO’s programme in collaboration with the Bangladesh Employers Federation, Islam has in turn trained co-workers who have then gone on to train others. “You can talk to any of the workers here. They know about safety and the rules they are supposed to follow,” he says.

The government has praised the programme. “By supporting the Government, employers as well as workers organizations, a strong foundation for workplace safety in the RMG (ready-made garments) sector has been established,” said State Minister of Labour and Employment Muhammad Mujibul Haque.

Chowdhury Ashiqulalam, Member Secretary of the National Coordination Committee for Workers Education (NCCWE) also acknowledged the importance of the programme. “The Rana Plaza disaster brought home the dangers faced by many workers in the Bangladesh RMG sector. While there has been good progress over the past few years to improve factory safety and workers’ awareness of safety issues, much still remains to be done. It is vital that the progress made under this initiative is not allowed to fade away. Good practices and lessons learnt in making RMG workplaces safer need to be replicated in other sectors across the country,” he said.

Myanmar apparel: ILO project helps factories to improve efficiency and productivity

Garment manufacturing involves various operations carried out by different operators at different stations. If not executed efficiently, these operations may jeopardize productivity, cause economic loss, and ultimately damage workplace relations: ILO News

In an ever competitive global industry, Myanmar apparel manufacturers must continuously improve production and the quality of their garments in order to survive in this global market.

Garment manufacturing involves various operations carried out by different operators at different stations. All these activities must be performed in a synchronized, planned and timely manner to meet the demands of brands and retailers.

Industry imperatives too often put disproportionate pressure on clothing line production workers who are asked to produce more, better and in less time. Dysfunctional line operations may result in low quality garments or in delayed shipping which may get rejected by the final buyer, causing economic loss and instability for various actors of the supply chain.

Improved productivity and optimized operations benefit not only the factory owners who will see their profitability improved, but may also trigger better terms of employment for workers when sound industrial relations systems, including collective bargaining, are put in place.

The ILO Garment Industry Project (ILO-GIP) has put in place a number of training programmes for Myanmar apparel manufacturers, ranging from sexual and reproductive health to social dialogue, occupational health and safety and productivity.

A Kaizen Institute consultant with a factory manager in Yangon, Myanmar / © ILO

In cooperation with the Kaizen Institute which supports companies of all sizes in all market segments, between November and December 2018, the ILO-GIP project has selected 10 Myanmar garment factories to conduct a 3-day assessment aimed at improving productivity and efficiency. From these assessments, individualized improvement plans for each selected factory will be developed and implemented by the ILO-GIP and the Kaizen Institute in the following months.

As part of the training, consultants from the Kaizen Institute, in consultation with the factory management, will select a production line in each factory and work closely with factory managers, production engineers, supervisors, line leaders & workers to assess their current modus operandi. Once the gaps in efficiency are identified, an action plan will be put in place and a revised production plan will be piloted in the assessed production line to see the benefits of an improved work flow.

As a result of these assessments, recommendations will be made on how to optimize operations, improve the know-how of all workers and ultimately boost productivity.

The individual proposed action plan will be presented to the Workplace Coordinating Committees (WCCs) of each participating factory where representatives of the management and workers can discuss its implementation and implications on the workers ’terms of employment.

“Increasing productivity and efficiency of workplaces, while involving both managers and workers, is an essential input into social dialogue and collective bargaining. With this initiative, we hope to create a good example of how every one gains from jointly identifying areas of improvements in the workplace” says Catherine Vaillancourt-Laflamme, chief technical advisor for the ILO-GIP.

A success story that tripled Egyptian textile exports to the United States

Interview with Mohamed Kassem, Chairman of Egyptian Ready Made Garment Export Council

Mohamed Kassem, Chairman of Egyptian Ready Made Garment Export Council
Mohamed Kassem, Chairman of Egyptian Ready Made Garment Export Council

Textile exports to the United States represent 25% of non-oil exports and 20% of total manufacturing in Egypt. This is largely a result of the QIZ program, which has brought Egyptian and Israeli companies together in business. Continue reading A success story that tripled Egyptian textile exports to the United States

Sphene : The new standard in digital textile printing by Stork Prints

Sphene is an exquisite and rare collector gemstone. Stork Prints’ new digital textile printer for sure is exquisite too, but thanks to Stork Prints this gemstone among printers is available to everyone who wishes to make affordable digital textile prints. A new era has begun in textile printing, join it now! Continue reading Sphene : The new standard in digital textile printing by Stork Prints

ITM Texpo Eurasia 2012, Istanbul (Turkey)

ITM Texpo Eurasia 2012, the International Textile Machinery Exhibition, was held from April 21 to 24 in Istanbul, Turkey. According to the organizers, some 1,132 exhibitors from 33 countries booked 85,000 square meters of fairground space in nine well-organized halls. ITM Texpo Eurasia event has enjoyed continuing growth since its start in 2004. Continue reading ITM Texpo Eurasia 2012, Istanbul (Turkey)

USDA’s Research on Odor control in Cotton

Socks, T-shirts and other garments could become less hospitable to odor-causing bacteria, thanks to new antimicrobial treatments being investigated by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in New Orleans, La. In studies at the Southern Regional Research Center operated there by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), a team of scientists is seeking to inhibit microbial growth in cotton using silver particles ranging from 2 to 6 nanometers in size. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency. Continue reading USDA’s Research on Odor control in Cotton

Textile Sector of Turkey : An Update

The future of cotton was the topic of discussion at the National Cotton Summit held in Sanliurfa, the province which accounts for 40 percent of Turkey’s cotton production. Our Association was there as one of the sponsors of the summit, where it was stated that the improvement seen in cotton production in recent years will be even more pronounced when GAP (Southeastern Anatolia Project) fully becomes operative. According to estimates, irrigable land areas will double with the completion of the GAP Action Plan. Consequently, the cotton production in the region will also double. The summit was held on March 19-20 and focused on discussions on the volume of production and quality of cotton and the problems experienced in production. Continue reading Textile Sector of Turkey : An Update

Schoeller Textil AG’s Top Leadership Changing

Siegfried Winkelbeiner

Siegfried Winkelbeiner, textile chemist, has taken over as the new CEO of Schoeller Textil AG – the innovative, long standing fabric and technology company based at Sevelen, Switzerland. Mr. Winkelbeiner, who had been the acting COO over the last year, accepted the new role from Hans-Jürgen Hübner, who, after 48 years with Schoeller, stepped away from the position and into a new role himself. Continue reading Schoeller Textil AG’s Top Leadership Changing