A global rights group called on Bangladesh to make sincere efforts to implement the roadmap requested by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to improve worker rights in the country.
IndustriALL Global Union made the request ahead of the ILO governing body’s meeting scheduled for mid-March.
In 2019, several worker organisations in Bangladesh submitted a complaint under article 26 of the ILO Constitution, according to a statement.
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 ILO governing body requested that Bangladesh develop a roadmap of actions in response to the country’s non-observance of the conventions.
The government submitted a progress report, providing updates on 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, the commitments made in the time-bound roadmap have yet to be fulfilled, claimed the statement.
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.”
This statement quoted IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary Apoorva Kaiwar.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council’s list of demands aligns closely with the roadmap that included proper payment of wages and overtime wages, easing the process of registration of trade unions and amendment of Bangladesh Labour Act and Bangladesh Labour Rules, in line with ILO conventions.
They also demanded increasing the number of labour courts, social protection, including employment injury, unemployment benefit, housing and food support.
The council leaders’ further demanded establishment of hospitals in industrial zones, establishment of health and safety and anti-harassment committees at factory level while they also requested for disbanding of the industrial police as they target worker unfairly.
The statement quoted IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan, saying: “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 IndustriALL affiliates to the labour legislation, he said, adding: “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.”