ILO for workers' freedom of association in Bangladesh

Online Desk | Update:

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called upon the government of Bangladesh to ensure that the draft of the proposed Export Processing Zones (EPZ) Labour Act, 2016 allows freedom of association for workers' and employers' organisations, reports news agency UNB.

The ILO wants to see that the draft EPZ Labour Act is brought into conformity with the provisions of the Convention regarding freedom of association, with consultation of the social partners.

The Committee on the Application of Standards also called upon the government to continue to investigate, without delay, all alleged acts of anti-union discrimination, including in the Ashulia area, ensure the reinstatement of those illegally dismissed, and impose fines or criminal sanctions (particularly in cases of violence against trade unionists) according to the law.

Taking into account the discussion, the Committee urged Bangladesh to ensure that the Bangladesh Labour Act and the Bangladesh Labour Rules are brought into conformity with the provisions of the Convention regarding freedom of association, paying particular attention to the priorities identified by the social partners.

It also urged Bangladesh to ensure that applications for union registration are acted upon expeditiously and are not denied unless they fail to meet clear and objective criteria set forth in the law, according to provisional report of the Committee shared during recent ILO conference.

The Committee urged the government to continue to effectively engage in ILO technical assistance to address the Committee's recommendations and to report in detail on the measures taken to implement these recommendations to the next meeting of the Committee of Experts in November 2017.

The Committee also took note of the oral statements made by the government representative.

The Committee on the Application of Standards also noted the long-standing nature and the prior discussion of this case in the Committee, most recently in 2015 and 2016.

It took note of the drafting of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) regarding union registration in collaboration with the ILO, the establishment of the Tripartite Consultative Council for the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, and the recall from Parliament of, and the preparation of, the draft EPZ Labour Law.

At the same time, the Committee noted the insufficient progress in relation to previous discussions of the Committee, and emphasised that more needed to be done to achieve compliance with Convention No. 87 and that this must take place without further delay.

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