Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

US labour body opposes Bangla duty-free access

The American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations recently has filed a petition with the United States Trade Representative requesting denial of benefits to Bangladesh under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). Although the US does not offer GSP concessions on apparel or textiles, the Tariff Relief Assistance for a Developing Economy (TRADE) Bill, curently before Congress, would extend GSP on textiles to a group of very poor non-African countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, The Maldives and Laos.

The US labour federation alleged that Bangladesh has not granted workers' rights. Countries receiving American GSP benefits must, under the US 1974 Trade and Tariff Act , enforce international labour standards, inducing the right to form associations, the right to organise and bargain collectively, a prohibition against compulsory labour, a minimum age for employment of children and regulations governing minimum wages, working hours and occupational safety and health.

The federation in their petition cited labour union issues at Taj Knitting (where a campaign earlier in 2005
highlighted prolonged payment of depressed “apprentice wages”) and the recent deaths at the Spectrum Sweater factory in support of their petition to revoke GSP facility for Bangladesh. "The election process of the workers in Bangladesh's Export Processing Zonesis being influenced company management, which cannot guarantee the rights to the workers," the labour federation alleged."The AFL-CIO calls on the US government to withdraw Bangladesh's eligibility for GSP benefits-until the ultimate goal – full freedom of association in Export Processing Zones – is attained," the petition revealed.