No plan now to bring EPZs under new labour law
The government has no immediate plan to bring the factories in export processing zones under the purview of the amended labour law, meaning workers in such zones will be barred from trade unionism for now.
"The EPZs are being run as per the EPZ Act, which will expire in December. So, the government has no plan now to bring them under the labour law,” Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar said yesterday.
Shipar was attending a press conference with Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at the secretariat.
The secretary said the labour law was amended with the consent of the International Labour Organisation, and the UN body will oversee the implementation process of the law.
The government will soon start formulating rules and regulations in the light of the new labour law, he added.
Shipar also said arrangements have been made to appoint 60 factory inspectors in the next two to three months and the rest 140 will be appointed gradually.
About the tripartite declaration in May for Better Work Programme, he said Bangladesh is engaged with the ILO since the beginning and the government is committed to implementing it.
On upgrading the Department of Labour into a directorate, Shipar said the proposal is now at the public administration ministry for consideration.
Presently, the department has 314 posts and the number would be raised to 2,200 once it becomes a directorate, he added
Dipu Moni said the government has welcomed the US roadmap to provide a basis for retaining the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) benefits in the US market.
However, she said: “We will review the roadmap.”
The government has actively been engaged with all stakeholders to improve the working environment and labour standards in the country, she said.
The foreign minister blamed the GSP suspension on three factors -- the Rana Plaza collapse, the propaganda campaign of Opposition chief Khaleda Zia, and Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus' remarks in various forums.
Dipu Moni said Yunus was not seen talking about labour issues in the past, but his recent remarks in various forums might have influenced the US to cancel Bangladesh's GSP.
The minister also said she does not think the GSP suspension was a failure of the government. Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed and Additional Foreign Secretary Mustafa Kamal were also present.