‘Strengthen work environment to better handle post-graduation challenges’
Bangladesh's garment sector needs to strengthen its labour and working environment in adherence to the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) with a view to better handle the post-graduation challenges, experts said today.
They spoke at a virtual dialogue on "Building the RMG Sector in Adherence with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs)" organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in partnership with Christian Aid in Bangladesh.
The labour appellate tribunal should be strengthened for faster dispute settlement to ensure that workers get justice in time, said Md Mojibul Haque Chunnu, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on labour ministry.
When any verdict goes in favour of workers in the labour court, many factory owners file writ petition to the labour appellate tribunal, where a judge of the High Court is assigned to settle the cases, he said.
It takes a lot of time and money by a worker to appoint a lawyer of the high court to settle the writ cases, although in most of the cases the amount of dispute varies between Tk 60,000 and Tk 1 lakh, Chunnu said today.
Finally, the delivery of judgement is delayed and the workers lost interest to move in the court because of involvement of excessive money and time, said Chunnu, also a former state minister for labour ministry.
So, if the labour appellate tribunal works like the administrative tribunal, the workers will be able to get the judgement within a stipulated timeframe, which will be helpful for them, Chunnu also said, without mentioning how many workers have been facing such harassment in the court.
"There are many loopholes in the labour law. The ministry will take initiative to amend the labour law again and I have a plan to suggest the ministry to incorporate the amendment into the system of labour appellate tribunal so that the workers can get the judgement."
Chunnu also suggested for making more dormitories for the garment workers with loans from the central bank at only 2 per cent interest.
Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the CPD, moderated the discussion, which was attended by garment trade body leaders, union leaders, government high-ups and economists.
Bangladesh is going to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 138 soon for determining the minimum age of workers, said Md Ehsan-E-Elahi, labour secretary.
Last year, the EU and Germany gave 113 million euro or over Tk 1,100 crore to Bangladesh to disburse among the affected workers of export oriented garment and leather sectors.
Elahi also said his ministry could disburse only Tk 7 crore to Tk 8 crore from the fund and the rest of the amount is still lying idle.
The ministry has a target to disburse the money among 72,000 workers at Tk 3,000 each workers for three months.
Faruque Hassan, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and Mohammad Hatem, first vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, also spoke.