The Norwegian government has committed up to NOK14.3m (US$2.3m) in funding to improve conditions for textile workers in China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh, the Norway Post reported.
The money will go to the Ethical Trading Initiative Norway (ETI) and will fund courses for manufacturers on decent work. It will see employers and employees come together to practise how to have a constructive dialogue.
Courses have been developed for manufacturers in China, India and Vietnam, with the programme now being expanded to include Bangladesh as well.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the goal is to have 700 manufacturers attend courses held by the ETI between 2013-2015.
“We must do whatever we can to ensure that the textile industry has safe workplaces with decent pay and good working conditions – for both men and women,” said minister of international development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.
The ministry said that increased trade is crucial for development, and the country’s imports of textiles and other goods creates thousands of jobs in developing countries.
The move is in response to the Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,100 people.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the victims were non-unionised workers who had “had no means of resisting the pressure from their employers to return to a building where the floors and walls had deep cracks” and from which other employees had been evacuated.
“Suppliers, consumers and we politicians all have a responsibility to act to prevent a disaster of this kind from happening again,” emphasized Holmås.