Not a good sign for apparel sector

The implementation and formulation of rules and regulations of the labour act is a key requirement to the establishment occupational health and safety committees. But even two years after the amendment to labour law, rules and regulations are yet to be finalised. As New Age reported on Friday, the speakers at a programme commemorating on Thrusday the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster rightly said that the implementation of the labour law and elimination of unfair labour practices were essential for ensuring worker rights and a healthy condition for workers. Under pressure from various rights organisations, at home and abroad, especially since the collapse of Rana Plaza, which killed at least 1,130 people and injured more than 2,000, mostly workers of the five apparel factories housed in the building, the government in 2013 amended the labour law, easing the process of registration for trade unions in the apparel sector. The Labour Act 2006, which apparently recognises trade unions in apparel factories, had some loopholes that allowed the owners to foil any attempt to form trade unions in their factories. For example, whenever owners came to know of any attempt to form trade unions in their factories, they would terminate the service of the initiators.
It goes without saying that trade unions essentially provide workers with a collective power to effectively bargain with their employers for their rights, for example, to fair wages, decent workplace environment, safety, health facilities and leave. Not only that, such a forum helps workers give vent to their discontent, if any, about management policies and performances in a systematic manner, which is conducive to a healthy industrial relation that is largely missing in the apparel sector. It is pertinent to note here that Bangladesh ratified the International Labour Organisation conventions over trade union rights soon after its independence, making it mandatory to allow workers in any sector to form trade unions. It is also worth noting that trade unions have existed in many sectors for years now. That 124 out of the 5,400 apparel factories in Bangladesh have no trade unions is not a promising sign for either the workers or the industry.
According to another report, more than a half of the existing 276 trade unions were formed in 2013 and later 125 of the 136 unions registered earlier have become either non-existent or dysfunctional. It is, however, imperative for the government to formulate and implement the rules of the law in question to facilitate the formation of trade unions and protect worker rights. Notably, since the late 1960s, regarded as the heyday of labour rights, labour laws and rules under successive governments have increasingly been tilted towards all quarters but workers, something that took place keeping pace with the waning labour movement for different reasons in the period. Labour leaders are expected to grasp the point and act accordingly.

One Comment

  1. Our RMG sector grew when Sri Lanka was on fire due to their internal conflicts fueled by external elements decade ago. A similar symptom is visible here and only a national unity can reverse it. Or else we have to suffer the consequences. The big brother factor must be dealt with courage and we know we are capable.

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