Better working conditions in Bangladesh

Five years on from the Rana Plaza disaster: more than 1,000 factories have improved their working conditions, and the Textiles Partnership is monitoring the entire supply chain.

April 23 will mark the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. More than 1,100 people died when the factory building collapsed, and many more were injured. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH works on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and with funding from the European Union (EU) to improve working conditions for textile workers in Bangladesh.


Many of the Rana Plaza survivors were unable to return to the textile industry due to the trauma and, in some cases, serious physical injuries they suffered. GIZ has supported more than 500 people in building new livelihoods as small-business owners. Former seamstress Rozina Akther was among those who received advice and took part in a seminar on setting up a small business. Her grocery store is now so successful that her husband, who was originally also a textile worker, has now joined the business.  

GIZ has been supporting Bangladesh in ensuring compliance with social and environmental standards in the textile industry since 2005. So far, more than 1,000 factories have improved their working conditions. Around 30,000 workers have received training in employment law and protection. More than 7,000 disputes in factories between managers and employees who had become familiar with their employment rights were settled.

However, seamstresses in Bangladesh are not the only ones affected by poor working conditions – so too are cotton farmers, tanners and dyers. To sustainably improve working conditions across the entire textile supply chain, from the cotton field to the clothing store, and reduce the impact on the environment, Federal Minister Gerd Müller set up the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles in 2014. Around 150 members from the private sector, politics and civil society in Germany jointly pursue binding and verifiable goals and report on their success. Half of Germany’s textile market is now represented in the Textiles Partnership, which is coordinated by GIZ.