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Bangladeshi affiliates stand united in the fight for workers’ rights

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13 May, 2024On 28 April, IndustriALL organised a workshop on human rights due diligence with affiliates in Bangladesh. The workshop aimed to develop an understanding of due diligence obligations that multinational companies have in their global supply chains.

Trade unionists discussed various laws and guidelines on human rights due diligence, like the German Act, the EU and the OECD guidelines. Union leaders devised strategies on how to use the laws and guidelines to safeguard workers’ rights along the supply chain. Building union capacity to use the laws is crucial; unions plan to identify and track risks as well as map whether companies have grievance redressal mechanisms for workers or not.

The workshop focused the European Union Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, which has five main pillars, freedom of association and collective bargaining, no forced labour, no child labour, occupational health and safety, and equal opportunity at the workplace.

Said Kemal Ozkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said:

“Trade unions in Europe have fought hard for the EU law on due and now it is time for us to build our capacitiy and to work shoulder to shoulder to fight the informalization of the workforce in the global supply chain.”

The workshop on human rights due diligence was preceded by a meeting of IndustriALL’s affiliates in Bangladesh on 27 April. In the meeting, union leaders delineated action priorities for 2024, which include joint campaign for the implementation of ILO Roadmap.
Affiliates in the shipbreaking industry shared their continued focus on the implementation of the Hong Kong Convention to ensure workplace safety, as well as adherence to environmental regulations. Affiliates in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry emphasised that as the industry is growing, there are also increasing attacks on workers’ rights, particularly their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Affiliates in the readymade garment sector highlighted the need for unions’ effective participation in various committees such as RSC and ACT, to ensure that workers’ issues are timely resolved. Meeting participants decided to reconstitute the women and youth committees of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council. Union leaders also decided to constitute a sub-committee to draft the country-level strategic plan for 2025 in-line with IndustriALL’s action plan.
Shahidul Badal, general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, said:

“Trade unions must put up a united fight in the face of growing economic uncertainties adversely impacting working people. Last year, we saw during the minimum wage struggle, several of our union members were attacked and some even brutally killed. When it comes to fighting against those in power, our unity is our biggest strength.”

IndustriALL’s south Asia regional secretary, Ashutosh Bhattacharya, shared upcoming actions and meetings and said:

“We look forward to our affiliates in Bangladesh working towards unity, gender, and youth responsive structures, paving the path to building inclusive union frameworks."