BGMEA and BKMEA with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and South Asian Enterprise Development Fund (SEDF) would implement a five-year programme to address the child labour, mid-management development and productivity improvement issues in the garments and knitwear sectors, industry source said.
Sources said a memorandum of understanding (MOU) would be signed next month among the four stakeholders in this connection, reports BDNEWS.
The Bangladesh Garments Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA), ILO and the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) already implemented a three-year project from 1996 to phase out child labour progressively in the more than 2,500 factories.
Bangladesh Knitwear Manufactures and Exporters Association (BKMEA) president Fazlul Hoq said, "We received the BGMEA's final proposal Thursday. The social compliance committee of BKMEA would critically review the project."
Sources at BKMEA said the five-year project will be implemented in two phases during 2006-2011. Elimination of child labour, fire security and mid-management development issues would be addressed in the first phase in the three years. Workers' education and training, productivity improvement, and workers' and employees' responsibility would be addressed during the last two years in the second phase.
Sources at BGMEA said BGMEA and BKMEA would finance 10 to 15 per cent of the project while SEDF will finance rest of the cost of the project. ILO would be an implementing agency of the project.
BGMEA Vice President Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury Arun said child labour in the garment factories increased in last two years after completion of the earlier project and also due to lack of monitoring.
"Within a relatively short period after starting of the earlier project, we were able to bring down child labour in the Bangladeshi garment industry to 4.5 per cent from 42.8 per cent in the inspected factories, while at the same time the percentage of child labour of the total labour force declined to 0.26 per cent from 3.56 per cent," he said.
Referring to the project cost, BGMEA legal consultant Janifer K Jabber said the project cost would be finalised after final consultation with the ILO.
Sources at the BGMEA labour cell said generally the mid-level managers employ garment workers. "We saw many problems happened in the recent garment incidents due to the weaknesses in the mid-level management," he said.
He said the new project is important not only for child labour and fire security but also for productivity improvement.