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05th-Sep-2018

Amendment not enough, it needs proper implementation of law

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THE government has approved a draft of the Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act, 2018 to make it workers-friendly in line with the suggestion of the international communities. Under the proposed law, workers' participation required to form trade unions at factories will be reduced to 20 per cent from the existing 30 per cent.
Besides, it provides for mandatory maternity leave and ban on child labour in factories and curtails discrepancy power of the director general of the labour department in cancelling the registration of a trade union. The bill is seemed like a good initiative on one side, on the other side, trade union people sometimes put hurdles on production and get involved in crime should be properly addressed.
International bodies, including the ILO and European Union, and also the United States, have been demanding improved labour rights in Bangladesh for the last five years. Among their demands, workers' right to trade unionism was the foremost. The global community even threatened to cut the trade privileges Bangladesh enjoys, particularly in the European market, if the government fails to amend the labour law giving more rights to the workers.
Following ILO suggestions, the law proposes the formation of a tripartite consultation committee comprising workers, owners and government representatives to resolve any industrial dispute. At the same time, the draft incorporates tougher provisions --- a worker or owner would face one-year imprisonment or penalty of Taka 10,000 or both for any misconduct including violation of the law. However, the eight-week maternity leave, though very little, ban on child labour, and tough punishment for work abstention or subversive activities are the key features of the law.
We hope if properly implemented the amended law would improve the environment of the workplace of the country's manufacturing sector, especially RMG.