It is their job to ensure that all factories in Bangladesh are safe for workers
It is extremely frustrating to learn that, as per reports, the activities of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) under the Ministry of Labour and Employment are barely visible, despite widespread reports of poor working conditions at local factories.
It is the DIFE that is supposed to approve factory layouts, address labour complaints, investigate occupational accidents, and ensure a decent working environment at all factories and workplaces; from the incessant catastrophes that we continue to see in our factories, it is safe to say that the DIFE have not been doing its job properly.
Just earlier this month, we saw a fire at Narayanganj killing over 50 people, deaths that were entirely avoidable had the minimal safety standards been in place.
While the owners of these factories in no way deserve to be let off the hook for their negligence and disregard, the DIFE must also be held accountable, for it is their job to ensure that all factories in Bangladesh are safe for workers.
However, this is where the government too must also step in, as too often, regulatory bodies such as DIFE are simply not empowered or, when they are, not held accountable, and the existing laws are manipulated by factory owners, using their power, wealth, and connections to bypass them.
It is only when we encourage a culture of accountability and adopt a zero tolerance approach to such callous behavior from factory owners will we see any progress made with regard to factory safety.