Swedish apparel retailer H&M says a new Centre of Excellence it has opened in Bangladesh is part of a commitment to help ensure a fair living wage covering workers and their families is paid by all of its commercial goods suppliers.
The project is technically and financially supported by H&M and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) with the International Labour Organisation as the implementing partner.
“With this project H&M wants to learn and better understand how certified training can increase wages establish a replicable model and if successful scale it up,” the company said in a statement.
As part of a roadmap to ensure better standards of living for clothing workers, H&M will support textile workers at its supplier factories to have access to education, skill development and ensure they are employed at a level matching their skills. They should also be able to bargain collectively through elected representatives.
“Collaboration is the key to achieve a positive change. Many different stakeholders need to work together in order to find long lasting improvements. That is why H&M in cooperation with ILO and Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) is introducing a first ever Centre of Excellence for the Bangladesh Apparel Industries (CEBAI) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.”
The centre was formally opened on December 7 by Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh during the Dhaka Apparel Summit.
This three-year project aims to provide training that will raise the workers’ level of education, provide them with skills required for development of the industry and increase their employability.
“In addition to training workers, the project will also train supervisors and managers on occupational safety and health, disability inclusion, workers’ rights and responsibilities. The project will deliver training and certification for instructors, industry trainers and assessors and briefings for managers and executives of enterprises,” H&M said.
“Consistent with employment trends of the RMG sector, most beneficiaries will be women and there is a five per cent target to include people with disabilities.”
The Centre of Excellence is located in Ashulia, a ready-made garment (RMG) cluster area close to Dhaka.