The International Labour Organisation urged the government to simplify the process of registration of trade unions at the factory level so that the workers can form the unions easily to enjoy the freedom of association.
The ILO adopted some decisions on Bangladesh's labour rights at the 104th International Labour Conference held in Geneva recently. The recommendations were based on a visit of the ILO's high-level tripartite mission to Bangladesh from April 17-20.
“Devise standard operating procedures to render the registration process a simple formal requirement, not subjected to discretionary authority and that does not set out to become an obstacle to registration,” the ILO said in a statement.
The ILO also recommended the government set up a public database which would include all relevant information on the submission and resolution of registration requests, including the reasons for rejections of applications.
The labour rights watchdog also suggested the government continue pursuing its efforts in awareness raising and capacity building of workers and employers in relation to constructive social dialogue on labour rights.
For establishing a public database to track unfair labour practice complaints and the steps taken to inquire and address them, the ILO said.
Regarding the labour laws in the export processing zones, the ILO suggested ensuring full freedom of association, including the right to form free and independent trade unions and to be associated with organisations of their choice.
The draft act amending the EPZ Workers' Welfare Association and Industrial Relations Act 2010 is fully consulted with the social partners and other relevant stakeholders, the ILO said.
The ILO suggested promoting harmonisation of the labour law throughout the country so that the rights, inspection, judicial review and enforcement are equal for all workers and employers.
During the visit of Bangladesh, the ILO delegation held meetings with ministers, secretaries, employers, trade union leaders and leaders of different trade bodies.
The labour ministry provided the delegation with the statistical information on the number of received and processed applications for trade union registration.
From 2013 to March 2016, the labour ministry received 742 applications in the garment sector, out of which 351 had been registered and 391 had been rejected.
Of the rejected ones, 180 applications could not satisfy 30 percent minimum membership requirement, 100 did not reply to the queries from the labour ministry seeking clarification and 111 for other reasons.
One of the steps for processing of applications for registration was to compare the signatures of workers on the application and on the employer's list, even though this was acknowledged to be extremely time-consuming, the ILO said.