The fashion industry is booming: The design comes from Europe, the cotton from Africa or America which is processed into fabric in China, before being shipped to Bangladesh where it is sewn into the T-shirt that consumers find in the shops in Europe.
As a major player in the industry, Bangladesh is at the centre of the sector’s globalisation and global attention. The textile and garment industry has experienced rapid growth over the last two decades. It is the stated goal of the Government of Bangladesh to achieve further growth, increasing garment exports to USD 50 billion by 2021. However, the time of rapid growth at all costs is over. The accidents at the Tazreen factory in 2012 and the Rana Plaza complex in 2013 have been major factors in initiating a change in thinking within the industry. As workers demand their rights and international buyers take a greater interest in compliance, efforts are being made to identify sustainable growth strategies.
Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES) is a joint project of the governments of Bangladesh and Germany, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project is supporting Bangladesh’s garment, textile and leather sectors to increase compliance with national labour and environment laws and international standards and to fulfil the commitment towards an inclusive workforce.
The project works together with government representatives and factory managers, assisting them to improve working conditions and to implement environmental standards. Through its “Inclusive Job Centre” the project matches persons with disabilities who are prepared to work in the textile industry with suitable training opportunities and encourages factory owners to employ them.
The three main target outcomes of PSES' activities are: government representatives are:
equipped to enforce legislation;
factories are willing and able to improve environmental and social standards and can increase productivity at the same time; and
workers know their rights and assert them in the factories.