A government delegation will visit shrimp farms and processing plants on May 15, based on a recent report by a US labour organisation, commerce adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman said Friday, reports bdnews24.com.
In the report "The True Cost of Shrimp", the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations has alleged that Bangladesh shrimp industry uses child labourers and exploits women workers.
The report by AFL-CIO, a voluntary federation of 56 national and international labour unions, on shrimp industries in Bangladesh and Thailand was published last month and was broadcast on CNN.
The visit to the shrimp industry units is meant to verify the information provided in the report.
Representatives of the International Labour Organisation, European Union, the US Embassy and journalists will be on the team.
"Everything cannot be solved overnight. We are trying to improve the situation. Work will continue in phases," Dr Rahman told bdnews24.com.
"We are visiting the scene to review the ground reality."
"If there is any problem, it will be solved. We are approaching the whole issue in a problem-solving manner. Everything has to be done in a systematic way. Many steps have already been taken," Rahman said.
The shrimp industry, Bangladesh's second largest export earner after garments, is an important sector, especially for "empowering the poor".
Rahman said: "We appreciate all credible evidence which can help us improve the situation. But we also insist that all evidence is credible and up-to-date."
"We would also appreciate if those improving the situation are encouraged rather than punished," he said.
Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation chairman Syed Mahmudul Haque told bdnews24.com: "The publication of such a report at a time when work is being done to improve labour compliance in the shrimp industry is unfortunate."
Since the introduction of the new labour law in October 2006, a number of steps have been taken, Haque said.
A broad programme was launched in 2007 to create awareness among shrimp farm owners, as part of a "vigorous campaign".
Complaint boxes have been set up at processing plants.
"One box has been put at the office of the shrimp industry owners' association," he said.
Mobile teams have been formed, according to Haque, to monitor the situation.
"Any authorised person can visit any plant without notice. Industry owners understand that any flaw will hurt the industry."