Better Work Bangladesh

Project Duration:
September 2014
December 2022
Funding and Year:

Better Work is a comprehensive program that brings together all levels of the apparel industry to improve working conditions and respect of labor rights for workers, while boosting the competitiveness of apparel businesses. As a result of their participation with Better Work, export apparel factories in Bangladesh have improved compliance with labor laws, including on issues of compensation, contracts, occupational safety and health, and working time. By enhancing working conditions, Better Work Bangladesh increases the factories’ productivity and profitability.

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The Problem

Harsh working conditions in apparel factories have been at the center of a large and growing debate about globalization and labor standards for years. Low wages, long hours, high temperatures, excessive noise, poor air quality, unsanitary conditions, and abuse (both verbal and physical) are often cited as evidence of non-compliant labor practices.

Bangladesh has experienced very rapid growth in its apparel sector, now the country’s largest export earner and the second largest exporter in the world, employing nearly 4 million workers in about 3,500 factories.  This growth has fueled rampant employer abuse of workers and deplorable working conditions. The needs were tragically highlighted by the Tazreen factory fire in 2012 and Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.

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Our Strategy

Better Work Bangladesh combines labor monitoring and training to apparel factories. By monitoring export apparel factories' compliance with international labor standards, Better Work informs major brands and buyers of labor conditions in each factory. Brands want to work with factories that will protect their reputation, so the program becomes a “race to the top” for increasing conditions, productivity and provide good jobs.  The program also educates workers and managers on labor rights and responsibilities, and provides a space for factory level dialogue between management and workers.

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Better Work Bangladesh is currently operating in 167 factories, benefiting 376,028 workers, 54% of which are women.

The program is partnering with other organizations and programs to address the sector’s fire and building safety.

Grantee: International Labor Organization (ILO)
Implementing Partners: International Finance Corporation (IFC)
Contact Information:
(202) 693-4900
Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA)