Govt firmly committed to creating labor-friendly environment

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Govt firmly committed to creating labor-friendly environment

Says Law Minister at ILO session

Special Correspondent:

Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Haque has said that despite global recession and various challenges, the government is firmly committed to creating a labor-friendly environment and is taking all necessary steps to establish the required labor relations for the welfare of workers. 

He said that the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is taking steps in the labor sector in the light of the dream of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, to build a poverty- and exploitation-free Bangladesh.

He made these remarks while addressing the 350th Governing Body session of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday.

In the light of the Roadmap (2021-26) adopted by the government for the development of the lives and livelihoods of workers in Bangladesh, the Law Minister highlighted Bangladesh’s progress in four areas at the ILO session: legal reforms, trade union registration, labor inspection, and other workers’ rights.

He also mentioned the proposal to reduce the number of workers required for trade union registration in the proposed Bangladesh Labor Law Amendment Bill from 20% to 15% in the industrial sector and from 30% to 15% in other sectors, double the punishment for unfair treatment of unions, triple the punishment for illegal factory closures, and quadruple the punishment for child labor.

In addition, he mentioned that the proposed amendment includes provisions to simplify the formation and operation of trade unions in the civil aviation sector and the maritime sector, and to simplify the filing of appeals against the decisions of the Labor Appeal Tribunal. 

He informed the session that the proposed amendment reflects more of the ILO’s various conventions. The Minister said that the Labor Law Amendment Bill may be tabled in the next session of the National Parliament as soon as possible after due tripartite discussions.

The Minister said that there has been qualitative and quantitative progress in trade union registration due to the introduction of online trade union registration alongside the existing application process, the introduction of pre-application services, and the adoption of training programs. 

As a result, the number of registrations in the RMG sector has increased nine times in the last nine years, and currently around 30 lakh workers are trade union members. In addition, the success rate of trade union registration applications has increased from 60% to 90% in the last four years, the Law Minister said.

Law Minister Anisul Haque further said that there has been visible improvement in factory and establishment inspections due to the increase in the number of factory inspectors by two and a half times, the introduction of inspection modules with the help of digital technology, and the provision of quality training to inspectors. He informed that more than 20,000 inspections have been conducted in the last six months of 2023 alone.

In addition, despite the EPZs having their own improved inspection system, the Department of Factory Inspection under the Ministry of Labor has also started inspections with the aim of improvement. As a result of the establishment of six new labor courts, there are now a total of 13 labor courts functioning.

In addition, a high-capacity Alternative Dispute Resolution Cell has been launched, which has disposed of over 90% of the conciliation applications received so far. The helpline launched by the government for easy filing of complaints related to workers’ interests has been working successfully, he said.

In the last three years, the government has trained about 36,000 workers, managers, owners, relevant government officials, and members of law enforcement agencies to ensure trade union rights and end discrimination against trade union workers. The government takes appropriate action, either through investigation or judicial process, upon receiving complaints in this regard.

In the said session, the majority of the members of the ILO Governing Body appreciated the significant progress made by the government in establishing the rights of workers. They emphasized the importance of ILO technical assistance in collaboration with the supervisory bodies for its speedy implementation.

 

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