Terms of Reference for Researcher(s)/Research firm
Date: April 10, 2022
From: The Asia Foundation
Tentative initiation date: May 10, 2022
Time dedicated to the desk review and to the writing of the report: to be defined with the consultant
The Asia Foundation is seeking an external researcher(s)/research firm to identify best practices and develop a cost benefit analysis for the sector to become eligible for LWG audit protocol and certification under the project “Promoting Decent Work and Acceptable Working Conditions in the Tannery Sector in Bangladesh” An exposure visit to the Tannery industries in Chennai, India will be held in May 2022. This analysis will be conducted based on this exposure visit.
About the Organization
The Asia Foundation (the Foundation) is an international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, the Foundation's projects address critical issues-governance and law, economic development, women's empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation-to encourage Asia's continued development as a peaceful, just, and thriving region.
Bangladesh currently has no Leather Working Group (LWG) certified1 tanneries, although there are only three in the footwear subsector of the leather industry. The tanning industry lags behind other industries in terms of having the Environmental, Social and Quality (ESQ) compliance required for achieving global standards and certification. While industry owners understand that compliance is a prerequisite for accreditation, export, and trade, longstanding and emerging bottlenecks, including loss of business impacting financial status and credit rating of tanneries, tanners’ lack of access to financing, and the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) permitting big individual tanneries to set up individual effluent treatment plants have prevented tanneries from making progress in obtaining certification. Updated audit protocols of LWG certification in 2021 include a significant focus on Occupational Safety and health (OSH), chemical management, and social compliance. Demonstrating responsible practices by tanners and workers in these areas is imperative for achieving ESQ compliance.
To support tanneries and the Tannery Workers Union (TWU) to adopt the best practices needed for certification, the project will organize an exposure visit to compliant tanneries in India. Tanneries in India use similar procedures as Bangladesh in collecting raw materials from different parts of the country and have a similar tanning culture. India has more than 100 LWG certified tanneries.
An independent third-party researcher will carry out a cost-benefit analysis of investment on compliance during this visit. Participants will observe good practices of LWG certified tanneries that can be replicated in Bangladeshi tanneries.
After the exposure visit, with support from the international auditor, the Asia Foundation and Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) will target 10-15 tanners and provide them with a twoday training to build their knowledge on the basics of LWG certification and audit protocols. These tanners will eventually work as change makers or ambassadors in the industry and motivate others to join this effort and prepare for LWG audits and accreditation. Through this entire process, the increased commitment and investment of tanners in achieving social compliance will ultimately impact working conditions and labor in the tannery sector. As a result, workers will have extensive scope for implementing OSH and labor law across the industry. The TWU representative will also share best practices of social compliance with workers upon returning to Bangladesh while the BTA member tanners will share best practices of ESQ compliance with their fellow tannery owners in periodic BTA meetings, including their annual general meeting and other platforms.