Enhancing Compliance and Building Capacity: Combating Modern Slavery in Bangladesh

The problem

The garment industry has witnessed time and again catastrophic factory accidents that have already killed hundreds of factory workers such as the November 2012 Tazreen factory fire and the April 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse. Tragedies like these have continued to occur due to insufficient safeguarding and protection of workers’ labour and human rights.


Over the course of this project, GRC prepared and delivered training courses on the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights to factory owners, employers and over 200 mid-level staff, promoting the core activities essential to conducting responsible business. To enhance capacity and knowledge on all industry levels, GRC further created training manuals and delivered the training to trade unions, labour unions and workers on international human rights, labour rights, worker rights and employer responsibility for upholding international human and labour rights. Subsequently, GRC designed guidelines, human rights impact assessment templates and model grievance mechanisms that were rolled out throughout the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry and for use by BGMEA’s member factories. Furthermore, in order to provide for meaningful stakeholder engagement, GRC carried out a multi-stakeholder workshop with several governmental bodies, owner associations and other relevant stakeholders to promote understanding of the UNGPs as well as organised “worker cafés” to provide workers with a safe space to engage in dialogue with each other and exchange their grievances.

How we tackled this

Between 2017 and 2019, GRC undertook several projects in the Bangladesh Garment Industry to advance responsible business activity. GRC provided advisory services to industry associations, factory owners, trade unions, and government inspectors concerning the responsibility of business enterprises to conduct human rights impact assessments of their business operations, how to create company-level complaint mechanisms, and how to craft human rights policy statements to demonstrate respect for human rights principles in their business operations.

GRC and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exports Association (BGMEA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in order to further BGMEA’s efforts to reform labour standards within the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. GRC worked alongside BGMEA and other stakeholders to design an action plan outlining the steps factories should take to meet international labour standards and address the concerns of international partners such as the US Government, the European Union, the International Labour Organisation, trade unions and workers organisations.

At a glance

Client/ Partners ActionAid Bangladesh, Safety and Rights and Aware Women’s Action for Justice Foundation (AWAJ)
Donor Confidential
Sector Garment
Country Bangladesh
Duration 2 years
Years 2017-2019