Eric Biel, Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs of the US. Department of Labor, travelled to Berlin to attend the G7 Stakeholder Conference “Promoting decent work worldwide through sustainable supply chains” on March 10 -11. The fire and collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013 in Bangladesh has put the spotlight of the whole world on the often poor working conditions of garment workers in supplying countries, who produce garments we buy in shops here. At the conference as well as in meetings with various stakeholders, Eric Biel discussed what countries like Germany and the United States can do to make supply chains more sustainable and transparent, how consumers can be encouraged and assisted to take a more informed buying decisions and how supplying countries can be supported in enforcing their national labor laws and improving working conditions, including occupational safety and health.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) works towards improving working conditions and enhancing workers’ right in other countries, and has projects in countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam.