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Bangladesh’s government must implement roadmap for workers’ rights

1 March, 2022IndustriALL is calling on the government of Bangladesh to make sincere efforts to implement the roadmap requested by the ILO to improve workers’ rights in the country, ahead of the governing body’s meeting in March.

In 2019, several workers’ organizations in Bangladesh submitted a complaint under article 26 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Constitution. The complaint concerned the non-observance of a number of ILO Conventions, including on freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively.

As a result, the governing body of the ILO requested that the government of Bangladesh develop a roadmap of actions in response to the country’s non-observance of the Conventions.

The Bangladeshi government has submitted a progress report, providing updates on the four priority areas of the roadmap, including labour law reform, trade union registration, labour inspection and enforcement, and addressing acts of anti-union discrimination/unfair labour practices and violence against workers.

However, commitments made in the time-bound roadmap have yet to be fulfilled. And in the consultation meetings of IndustriALL affiliates in December and January, affiliates revealed that they had not been consulted or included in any of the meetings held on the roadmap.

“From the government’s report, it appears that no meaningful consultation has been held with trade unions. Since the most important sector in Bangladesh is the ready-made-garment (RMG) sector, any meaningful consultation will necessarily have to be done with IndustriALL’s affiliates, which has not been done,”

says Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary.

IndustriALL Bangladesh Council's list of demands aligns closely with the roadmap and includes:

  • proper payment of wages and over-time wages
  • easing the process of registration of trade unions
  • amendment of Bangladesh Labour Act and Bangladesh Labour Rules, in line with ILO conventions
  • increasing the number of labour courts
  • social protection, including employment injury, unemployment benefit, housing and food support
  • establishment of hospitals in industrial zones
  • establishment of health and safety and anti-harassment committees at factory level
  • disbanding of the industrial police as they target worker unfairly

“IndustriALL calls on the government of Bangladesh to make sincere efforts to implement the roadmap in full consultation with trade unions, particularly IndustriALL affiliates, through genuine social dialogue. The government must consider the amendment proposals made by our affiliates to the labour legislation. The concerns of RMG workers must be reflected; IndustriALL’s affiliates in the sector should be made a part of the Labour Act and Rules amendment sub-committees,”

says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary.