Labour law to be amended by Nov
The government is on course to amending the labour law within the stipulated timeframe of November, although a coalition of rights groups yesterday claimed the progress was very slow.
At the International Labour Conference in June, Bangladesh committed to amend the labour law by the end of November.
The amended labour law is expected to be passed by the parliament in the next session, said Mujibul Haque Chunnu, state minister for labour and employment.
“So, we are well ahead of schedule,” he said, adding that the draft copy of the proposed amendment of the labour law has been forwarded to the International Labour Organisation before the deadline of August 31 for their consultation.
The draft of the amendment to the labour law was prepared in consultation with the stakeholders of the tripartite council that was formed for the garment sector in April, the minister said.
Chunnu denied the allegation that Bangladesh is lagging behind in amending the labour law as per the commitment.
He also denied the allegations of the international rights groups that labour and union leaders were being harassed by police.
“I have not heard any information regarding the harassment of labour leaders. I have been holding meetings with labour leaders frequently on different issues. Nobody complained to me,” the minister said.
The development comes as the European Union has long been urging Bangladesh to show tangible progress on labour rights to avoid losing the generalised system of preferences (GSP) benefit that allows the country duty-free export to the 28-nation bloc.
Meanwhile, a coalition of labour organisations yesterday called on the European Commission to launch an investigation into the Bangladesh government's failure to make necessary reforms to protect workers' rights.
The abuses in the report show that the government is in violation of the sustainability compact it signed with the European Union in August 2013 committing to responsible business behaviour and ensuring workplace safety.
“The government of Bangladesh is consistently failing to meet its obligations under international law to protect workers' rights,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary to the International Trade Union Confederation.
Subsequently, in light of the new evidence, the trade unions and labour organisations are renewing their calls to the European Commission to make good on its promise to launch a trade investigation into Bangladesh.
EU is Bangladesh's largest trade partner and its action could spur significant change in the country, the letter said.
On behalf of the European Trade Union Confederation, Confederal Secretary Liina Carr stated: “We call the European Commission to be consistent with its “Trade for all” agenda to promote the respect of labour rights around the world.”
Trade between EU and Bangladesh should be an opportunity to raise labour standards.
“We need to break up the vicious circle of workers' exploitation in the garment industry in Bangladesh that ultimately affects European workers too in a race to the bottom,” Carr added.