Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bangladesh - ILO wants more labour law changes

Owners reopen RMG factories
In a press statement on Monday, the UN agency said it was a positive move to ensure workers' freedom of association, collective bargaining rights and addressing the need to boost occupational safety and health.

Later this year, the ILO will review the amended legislation to ascertain its compatibility with the international labour standards ratified by Bangladesh.
However, the ILO said its initial review suggests that despite addressing some of its specific concerns, the amendments fall short of “several important steps called for by the ILO supervisory system to bring the law into conformity with ratified international labour standards”.
“Bangladesh has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining and is, thus, required to protect the rights contained therein,” said the statement.
It admitted law now has several provisions to enhance work workplace safety.
However, it praised Bangladesh for ratifying the key international labour standards on OSH policy that includes Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006, and Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981.
The ILO, however, regretted that it had not got the official version and translation of the final amendments.
But it said it had got an unofficial translation and welcomed various changes brought for worker’s freedom of association and collective bargaining which it said fulfilled several steps the agency had called for.
It includes the “elimination of the previous obligation to send to employers the names of union leaders at the time of registration of a trade union at the factory or federation level… [which] will allow workers to call for outside experts' advice during collective bargaining.”
This right has not, however, been extended to workers in the private sector.
Some restrictions, which threaten workers' rights to form association, have not been dealt with, the ILO has noted. It includes the need to reduce the 30 per cent minimum membership requirement to form a union.
“The amendments also do not extend freedom of association and collective bargaining rights to workers in export processing zones.”
The ILO is worried that some of the new provisions may raise additional concern about its consistency with the conventions agreed upon.
Regarding workplace safety and health, it welcomed additions that ensure the formation of safety committees in factories with more than 50 workers, wider jurisdiction for inspectors, requirement of personal safety equipments and obligation, and health centres in large workplaces along with safety welfare officers, etc.
ILO stated that labour law reforms were urgently needed to fulfil the Government’s obligations under the Conventions it ratified and also to give effect to the provisions of the amendments.
“Changes are also needed to the existing industrial relations regulations that allow employers to conduct the elections for worker Participation Committees.”
The ILO has called on Bangladesh to take the further steps to fulfil its commitments on labour law reform made at the Organization’s International Labour Conference in June and commitments made in the Sustainability Compact agreed with the EU on July 8.
The statement said the ILO was prepared to begin working with the government immediately for the ‘development and adoption of further legislative proposals to address the conclusions and recommendations of the ILO supervisory bodies’.
It said it was dedicating vital resources to the strengthening of the labour and safety inspection capacity of the government, which meant training personnel for workplace safety and the development of safety infrastructure.
The ILO and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group, have been exploring the possibility of launching their Better Work Programme in Bangladesh which mobilise the efforts of employers, trade unions and governments to improve productivity, working conditions and rights in the garment sector.
The amendments to the law and other steps by Bangladesh will be reviewed by the Better Work Management Group next week which will decide whether the minimum requirements have been met to launch the programme.

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