Lessons from Rana Plaza: Germany and the ILO support Bangladesh in setting up an occupational accident insurance system



A dynamic workplace provides health benefits. (Photo: Stephan Floss)

In conjunction with the International Labour Organization, Germany is supporting Bangladesh in the area of occupational safety and health, specifically in setting up a statutory accident insurance system. One aspect of this support is that in the medium term, three scholarship students from Bangladesh will acquire the relevant knowledge by completing a course of study in social insurance science at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences. The bursaries for this purpose were formally presented today at an event in Berlin attended by Muhammad Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Bangladesh Minister of Labour, Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr Joachim Breuer, Director General of the German Social Accident Insurance, and Gilbert Houngbho, Deputy Director General of the ILO.

The event marked the conclusion of the visit by a 24-strong delegation from Bangladesh, comprising representatives of employees, employers and the state OSH system, who in the preceding weeks had learned about the social dialogue, in-company prevention, and insurance against occupational accidents and diseases in a German context. The delegates familiarized themselves with the theoretical principles underpinning the German accident insurance system and their application in practice through direct contact with the social partners in the German textile sector.

The visit was funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in conjunction with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and was organized by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). The aim is to support the development of a sustainable accident insurance system in Bangladesh.

In recent years, media reports on working conditions in the Bangladesh textile industry have been dominated by news of accidents. The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Savar in 2013 is particularly present in the public consciousness. However, this event also marked the beginning of intensified political initiatives aimed at improving safety and health at work in the textiles sector, and at creating a system of insurance against occupational accidents and diseases.

Since 2010, German development cooperation work has already contributed around €16 million in support of the efforts of partners in Bangladesh to improve social and environmental standards in the textile industry. For example, some 300 labour inspectors have been trained in conjunction with the ILO. The textile alliance founded in Germany in 2014 by Federal Minister Gerd Müller already comprises over 140 members, who have pledged to improve working conditions in the textile industry.

The International Labour Organization, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the German Social Accident Insurance are continuing to support these efforts.

The German Social Accident Insurance Institutions are also already contributing their expertise to the cooperation with Bangladesh. For example, the Bangladesh delegation was acquainted with the structures and mechanisms of Germany's occupational accident insurance system by the DGUV, in conjunction with the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the energy textile electrical and media products sectors (BG ETEM). In the last few days, the members of the delegation were able to share their experience in the final week of their visit with Muhammad Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Bangladesh Minister of Labour, Tofail Ahmed, Bangladesh Minister of Trade, and Atiqul Islam, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association. The next step will involve converting this knowledge into concrete measures for assuring good working conditions and social security for workers in Bangladesh.


Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
BMZ Pressestelle
Tel.: 030- 18 535-2450
Mail: presse@bmz.bund.de

Stefan Giffeler
Senior Communication Officer for Europe and Central Asia
International Labour Organization
Tel: +49 30 28092668
Mobile: +49 171 4198295

German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV)
Stefan Boltz
Tel.: 030 288763768
Fax: 030 288763771


DGUV - Pressestelle
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10117 Berlin

Tel.: +49 30 13001-1414

Gregor Doepke
Stefan Boltz

Stv. Pressesprecherin:
Elke Biesel