2 May 2018, Dhaka: Bluenumber, Robi Axiata and Bank Asia are partnering on a groundbreaking initiative for garment workers in Bangladesh, the world’s largest garment producer after China.
The initiative, Workers First, offers garment workers a bundle that includes a bluenumber, a device with data connectivity and a bank account. The pilot deployment will involve 1,000 workers and subsequently scale in stages to include all 15,000 of the factory’s workforce.
Workers First‘s guiding principle is that each worker has a right to be recognised and must have the means to connect to enjoy the benefits of being creators of their community’s wealth. With the bundle, workers will gain the tools and recognition they need to leapfrog into being fully-enabled actors in the digital economy.
Bluenumber designed Workers First in response to traditional supply chain approaches that police factories from the top down, passing costs for onerous repetitive audits to factory owners. The bundle offered by the partners incentivises workers to self-identify and enables them to directly connect with peers, employers and buyers. Brands seeking assurance that workers are being treated well and fairly paid will have the option of direct feedback from them.
Robi Axiata, Bangladesh’s second largest mobile phone operator with over 45 million subscribers. It is a joint venture comprising Axiata Group Berhad (Malaysia), Bharti Airtel Limited (India) and NTT DoCoMo Inc. Bank Asia operates in over 120 branches and has 2,200 Agent bankers nationwide.
The partners hope that the significant cost savings brands will enjoy from reduced audits and surveys will be channelled directly to better workers’ livelihoods.