The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is supporting the U.S. government’s decision to suspend Bangladesh’s trade benefits granted under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The IAM believes that countries who benefit from preferential trade programs must comply with internationally recognized labor rights, specifically the right to non-lethal workplaces and the right to form unions.
“The death of over 1,800 workers in preventable factory fires and building collapses in the Bangladesh garment industry, including the most recent collapse of the Rana Factory, underscores the importance of this effort,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “The IAM hopes that the suspension of trade privileges for Bangladesh will serve as a mechanism to accelerate an effective process involving the government, employers and workers of Bangladesh to achieve meaningful and effective worker rights, including safe and healthy workplaces.”
The IAM is optimistic that the actions of the U.S. government taken with respect to GSP will pressure the Bangladesh government to improve workers’ rights throughout their country. If the Bangladesh government displays real commitment in achieving real results with respect to workers’ rights, it can earn reinstatement of GSP benefits.
The IAM also urges all companies who are involved in textile production in Bangladesh to sign on to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord, a binding agreement negotiated between Global Union Federations and retailers. With over 60 companies becoming part of the Agreement, the IAM encourages all U.S. retailers, including GAP and Walmart to sign onto the Accord. The Accord is the only private sector initiative that offers meaningful resolution to the catastrophes that continue to occur in Bangladesh.