The Financial Express

Bangladesh to review labour law to address international concerns

| Updated: February 16, 2021 13:52:23

Reuters file photo Reuters file photo

The country's labour law is set to come under a fresh review for addressing the concerns of different global groups about workers' rights situation here, officials said.

The government is expecting to submit a roadmap in this regard before a tripartite consultative council by the first week of next month.

Labour and employment secretary K M Abdus Salam wrote a letter last week to the director of the International Labour Standards Department of the ILO about the government's move to address the concerns.

The roadmap will be presented to the governing council of the International Labour Organization (ILO), he wrote.

At the 108th session of the international labour conference in June 2019, the workers' representatives from different counties had urged to form an inquiry commission against Bangladesh, citing 'non-observance' of top ILO conventions relating to the workers' rights.

They complained about non-observance of the Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81), the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the Protection of the Right to Organise and the Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) by Bangladeshi authorities.

"For a suitable and practical roadmap, the elements for trilateral consultations would generally include review of labour law (and related other laws and rules), freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, and trade union registration, dispute resolution/labour courts, and labour inspection and enforcement," the secretary wrote in the letter.

He said he will hold consultation meetings with the international organisation of employers and the Bangladesh Employers' Federation, International Trade Union Confederation and local trade union organisations during the third and fourth weeks of this month as part of an exercise to prepare the roadmap.

The government has already started consultations with the concerned ministries/departments along with national employers' and workers' organisations to develop a roadmap on the possible areas focusing on the tenable issues of the complaint, according to the labour ministry.

An inter-ministerial committee has already been formed to analyse the issues of concerns and ensure effective coordination to develop and implement the activities of the roadmap under preparation, sources said.

Earlier in the last month, the labour ministry submitted a reply to the ILO over the complaints filed by the labour representatives from Italy, Japan, South Africa, Pakistan and Brazil.

In the reply, the ministry admitted that despite multiple steps to simplify the trade union registration process, the rate of registration rejection was still high.

It also highlighted the measures that have so far taken to address the ILO delegates' concerns regarding the violation of the freedom of association in the country.

"We acknowledge that the rejection rate is still high which can be reduced through training of labour department officials and workers," it said and added: "With support from ILO, we are continuing our efforts in this regard."

Regarding unionism in export processing zones (EPZs), it said the workers have the right to form welfare association and collective bargaining as per the ILO conventions 87 and 98.

They are more protected and facilitated as well as getting more benefits under existing EPZ laws, rules and regulations, and provisions, said the ministry.

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