Question for written answer E-014208/2015
to the Commission
Rule 130
Alfred Sant (S&D)

Subject: Labour rights and preferential trade agreements with Bangladesh

Question(s)

Despite some key achievements following the launching of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact , a 2015 Commission Technical Status Report following up on the same Compact shows that only 4% of Bangladeshi textile workers are represented in trade unions, and that workers are experiencing “anti-trade union discrimination and harassment of newly registered unions”, including reports on dismissals of leaders.

In this regard:

1. What is the Commission doing to ensure that it is sufficiently easy for Bangladeshi workers to be organised and registered in trade unions?
2. How is the EU controlling, or attempting to control, that goods benefiting from the preferential trade arraignment are not being manufactured in factories which adhere a non-trade union inscription policy?
3. Does the Commission foresee any kind of sanctions if there is evidence that anti-trade union work policies are maintained?

E-014208/2015
Answer given by Ms Malmström
on behalf of the Commission
(24.2.2016)

The Commission addresses labour rights concerns in global supply chains through a holistic approach. This approach also applies to goods manufactured in Bangladesh.

In this context, the Commission notably supports Bangladesh’s efforts through its current development cooperation programmes.

The Commission also closely monitors progress in the implementation of the Sustainability Compact that was launched in July 2013 by representatives of the Government of Bangladesh, the European Union and the International Labour Organization to promote improved labour standards, including trade union’s rights, and responsible business conduct in the Ready-Made Garment and knitwear industry in Bangladesh.

In addition, the EU Directive on Non-Financial Information Disclosure requires large companies to report on social, human rights, environmental, diversity and anti-corruption risks in their business. Furthermore, the Commission actively promotes the uptake of responsible business practices by EU-based companies as put forward in its Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. This includes the promotion of internationally recognised principles and guidelines such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

As a least developed country, Bangladesh benefits from the most favourable trade preferences regime available under the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences, namely the Everything But Arms (EBA) arrangement. EBA preferences can be suspended for serious or systematic violations of the principles of key human and labour rights conventions.

1. “Staying engaged: A Sustainability Compact for continuous improvements in labour rights and factory safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh”; http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/july/tradoc_151601.pdf.
2. The last technical status report is available on the following website: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/april/tradoc_153390.pdf.
3. Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups (OJ L 330, 15.11.2014, p. 1).
4. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0681:FIN:en:PDF)
5. Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 303, 31.10.2012, p. 1).

Maltese Version

Suġġett: Id-drittijiet tal-ħaddiema u l-ftehimiet kummerċjali preferenzjali mal-Bangladexx

Filwaqt li xi kisbiet ewlenin intlaħqu wara l-varar tal-Patt dwar is-Sostenibbiltà tal-Bangladexx, Rapport tal-Kummissjoni tal-2015 dwar l-Istatus Tekniku b’segwitu għall-istess Patt juri li 4 % biss tal-ħaddiema fil-qasam tat-tessuti tal-Bangladexx huma rappreżentati fit-trade unions, u li l-ħaddiema qed jesperjenzaw “diskriminazzjoni u fastidju kontra t-trade unions ta’ unions li għadhom kemm Ä¡ew irreÄ¡istrati”, fosthom, skont rapporti, tkeċċijiet ta’ kapijiet ta’ unions.

F’dan il-kuntest, il-Kummissjoni mitluba twieÄ¡eb dawn il-mistoqsijiet:
1. X’qiegħda tagħmel biex tiżgura li huwa biżżejjed faċli għall-ħaddiema tal-Bangladexx li jiÄ¡u organizzati u rreÄ¡istrati fi trade unions?
2. X’qiegħda tagħmel, jew tipprova tagħmel, biex ikun żgurat li l-oÄ¡Ä¡etti li jibbenefikaw minn ftehim kummerċjali preferenzjali mhumiex qed jiÄ¡u manifatturati f’fabbriki li jaderixxu għal politika li ma tippermettix li jiÄ¡u impjegati persuni li jkunu membri ta’ trade union?
3. Tipprevedi li timponi xi tip ta’ sanzjoni jekk ikun hemm evidenza li jitħaddmu politiki tax-xogħol kontra t-trade unions?

MT
E-014208/2015
Tweġiba mogħtija mis-Sinjura Malmström
f’isem il-Kummissjoni
(24.2.2016)

Il-Kummissjoni tittratta l-kwistjonijiet marbuta mad-drittijiet tax-xogħol fil-katini ta’ forniment globali permezz ta’ approċċ olistiku. Dan l-approċċ japplika wkoll għal oġġetti manifatturati fil-Bangladexx.

F’dan il-kuntest, il-Kummissjoni notevolment tappoÄ¡Ä¡a l-isforzi tal-Bangladexx permezz tal-programmi ta’ kooperazzjoni għall-iżvilupp attwali tagħha.

Il-Kummissjoni tissorvelja wkoll mill-qrib il-progress fl-implimentazzjoni tal-Patt dwar is-Sostenibbiltà li tnieda f’Lulju 2013 minn rappreżentanti tal-Gvern tal-Bangladexx, l-Unjoni Ewropea u l-Organizzazzjoni Internazzjonali tax-Xogħol biex ikunu promossi standards tax-xogħol aħjar, fosthom id-drittijiet tat-trade unions, u l-kondotta responsabbli tan-negozji fl-industrija tal-ilbies u tal-ilbies maħdum bin-nitting lesti fil-Bangladexx.

Barra minn hekk, id-Direttiva tal-UE dwar id-Divulgazzjoni tal-Informazzjoni Mhux Finanzjarja tesiġi li kumpaniji kbar jirrapportaw dwar ir-riskji soċjali, tad-drittijiet tal-bniedem, dawk ambjentali, tad-diversità u dawk kontra l-korruzzjoni fin-negozju tagħhom. Barra minn hekk, il-Kummissjoni tippromwovi b’mod attiv l-użu ta’ prattiki ta’ negozju responsabbli mill-kumpaniji bbażati fl-UE kif ippreżentat fl-istrateġija tagħha dwar ir-Responsabbiltà Soċjali Korporattiva. Dan jinkludi l-promozzjoni ta’ prinċipji u linji gwida rikonoxxuti internazzjonalment bħalma huma l-Organizzazzjoni għall-Kooperazzjoni Ekonomika u l-Linji Gwida għall-Iżvilupp ta’ Impriżi Multinazzjonali u l-Prinċipji Gwida tan-Nazzjonijiet Uniti dwar in-Negozju u d-Drittijiet tal-Bniedem.

Bħala wieħed mill-Pajjiżi l-Anqas Żviluppati, il-Bangladexx jibbenefika minn preferenzi ta’ kummerċ l-aktar favorevoli disponibbli bl-Iskema Ġeneralizzata ta’ Preferenzi, jiġifieri Kollox ħlief Armi (Everything But Arms, EBA). Il-preferenzi tal-EBA jistgħu jiġu sospiżi minħabba ksur serju jew sistematiku tal-prinċipji ta’ konvenzjonijiet dwar id-drittijiet tal-bniedem u tax-xogħol.

1. “Staying engaged: A Sustainability Compact for continuous improvements in labour rights and factory safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh”; http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/july/tradoc_151601.pdf.
2. The last technical status report is available on the following website: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/april/tradoc_153390.pdf.
3. Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups (OJ L 330, 15.11.2014, p. 1).
4. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2011:0681:FIN:en:PDF)
5. Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences (OJ L 303, 31.10.2012, p. 1).

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