Allow trade union for own good: analysts
Apparel makers have to introduce trade unions in their own initiative, as an effective union is a must to resolve workers' unrest, experts said yesterday.
“A responsible trade union is good for any organisation. But garment workers cannot form it due to several obstacles by the owners,” said Former Cabinet Secretary Ali Imam Majumder.
The owners have to come forward to form the union by removing all the hurdles and workers will facilitate the initiative, he said at a roundtable.
Majumder's comment came at a time when the cabinet has approved a ceiling to form a trade union in a recent amendment to the Bangladesh Labour Law 2006.
A representation of at least 30 percent of the workers in a factory will be required to form a trade union and the initiative has to come from the workers, according to the draft.
The roundtable styled 'Ready Made Garment Industry: Problems and Relevant Thinking' was organised at the National Press Club by Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) that works for good governance.
Factory owners will not have to call upon the law enforcement agency to resolve unrest over simple reasons if there is a responsible labour leader in the factory, said Majumder.
M Hafizuddin Khan, former adviser to the caretaker government, said the government lacks transparency and accountability at every level of administration.
“The authorities should have detained the local UNO (upazila nirbahi officer) and other officials concerned after the deadly building collapse in Savar. They, however, didn't do so. As a result, these types of accidents may happen again in the future,” said Khan.
The Savar incident would not have happened had the engineer was responsible; when it comes to discharging duties and responsibilities, everyone has failed, he said.
“We, the civil society members, are guilty as well because we have always commended the clothing industry despite its numerous problems,” said Khan.
“The armed forces do not have specialised training on rescue operations. People from all walks of life joined the rescue operations in Savar,” said M Shakhawat Hussain, former election commissioner. The UNO declared a faulty building safe because of a lack of accountability, he said.
Zafarullah Chowdhury, founder of Gonoshastho Kendro, said the government should arrange the rationing facility for the garment workers immediately.
“Every single garment worker will get the opportunity to enjoy health insurance, if BGMEA spends only Tk 500 for each worker,” he said.
This move will also improve our global reputation in the apparel sector, he said. Otherwise, this industry will not survive; the industry is already facing conspiracy from different sections, he added.
Dr Tofail Ahmed, a local government expert, urged the government to investigate all the transactions of the garment owners to identify the flow of funds.
The investigation will help find the reason why most garment makers have failed to construct their own factory buildings even after three decades in operations. Sujan Secretary Badiul Alam Mazumder moderated the secession.