Compliance in Bangladesh readymade garment factories has improved over the past year, but the relevant authorities still have to do more, according AsiaInspection (AI).
AsiaInspection is a third party quality control and compliance service provider founded in Hong Kong and accredited by the China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment. It is licensed to perform inspections in China.
The gradual upward trend is supported by AI's data, with a modest 2.8 per cent increase in ethical scores (from 6.51 to 6.7 out of 10) over the past 12 months, while inspections grew by 68 per cent.
However, AI data shows that thus far in 2015, 41.6 per cent of factories audited in Asia showed major non-compliances, and 25.9 per cent were at serious ethical risk.
The Bangladeshi state authorities say that Bangladesh now meets the criteria to be reinstated in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade programme, having lost its membership in 2013.
New legislation is in the works: the Textile Industries Establishment Act 2015, if passed, will impose heavy fines and imprisonment for operating textile or garment factories without a license.
Prosecution of individuals responsible for industrial accidents is also underway. Owners of the Tazreen factory in Dhaka, site of the deadliest industrial fire in Bangladesh, are to stand trial on murder charges.
This indictment and the murder charges presented earlier this year against Sohel Rana, owner of the Rana Plaza complex, are among the first times that owners of garment factories are being tried for their role in the deaths of workers at their facilities.
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety released a report about its second year of work, revealing issues with remediation efforts and safety follow-up. Less than 10 per cent of the Alliance member factories inspected made the required changes, citing lack of long-term funding as the main reason for their failure.