28 November, 2022Women and young trade unionists in Bangladesh are calling for women and young workers to be included in union leadership and decision-making processes.
Leaders discussed the necessity of building inclusive, democratic and stronger unions at the national youth meeting on 12-13 November, and at the national women’s meeting on 17-18 November, held in Dhaka, in which 15 of IndustriALL’s affiliates in Bangladesh participated.
Women and young workers' engagement in the labour market is steadily expanding, and they often end up undertaking precarious employment with no social security benefits.
Despite forming a large chunk of the workforce, women and young workers are invisible from union spaces, let alone leadership roles. Young workers and women have felt left out and not relevant in trade unions, sometimes a reflection of the issues raised by the unions.
In the meeting, women trade unionists stressed that women's issues be included in CBAs and that discussions on occupational health and safety should not be gender blind. They made an action plan to address inclusiveness in unions, as well as the gender pay gap, gender-based violence and discrimination, and ratification of ILO C190.
In Bangladesh, only six per cent of paid employees have access to daycare and separate toilet facilities. And as per the newly amended labour rules, maternity benefits have been further reduced.
“Our government is not bothered about women workers at all. It’s important that trade unionists consider issues faced by women workers, who form a large proportion of the workforce. Women’s issues must be taken seriously to advance workers’ struggle. We cannot build stronger unions unless we include women’s voices,”
said, Tehmina Rahman, general secretary of Bangladesh Apparels Workers Federation (BAWF).
In the national youth meeting, young unionists extensively that youth be made part of the decision-making bodies within unions. They also decided on priorities from IndustriALL’s youth resolution, to work on in the coming years:
- Equal jobs, equal pay and equal rights
- A better work-life balance
- Continuous transmission of experience and knowledge
A national working group with 15 members to oversee the implementation of the youth resolution in Bangladesh was formed.
Hasan Ali, a young trade unionist from Bangladesh Textile and Garment Workers' League (BGTLWF), said:
“Each federation must have their own youth committee to fight for the causes of young workers and strengthen the union movement. We need to coordinate amongst ourselves to successfully implement the youth resolution in the country.”