Some gaps need to be plugged in the EU’s nine-point action plan for Bangladesh in order to obtain the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status after the country’s graduation from a least developed nation in 2024. One of the major gaps lies in the freedom of association as factory workers still need the participation of 20 per cent of their colleagues to form a union.The threshold was reduced from 30 per cent through an amendment to the labour law.
Bangladesh has already ratified the worst forms of Child Labour convention (CO 182). Through the 2018 amendment of labour law, employing children under the age of 12 in any factory or establishment has been prohibited and is a punishable offence. Eliminating child labour in order to move towards the ratification of the Minimum Age Convention (CO 138) will be difficult due to the socio-economic conditions of Bangladesh, where many children work in order to provide for themselves and their families.
The Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006, and its amendments do not explicitly address the issues of violence against workers and workplace harassment. There are no explicit laws for addressing workplace related violence issues. Even worker unrest is sometimes considered a criminal offence. Police force also gets involved in the event of an unrest turning violent, although the unrest usually stems from industrial disputes, according to the CPD’s research director.
There are other laws in place to prevent violence against women, which would also be tried in criminal courts if they turn into ‘criminal offences’, but harassment in the workplace is not clearly identified by the law. The national action plan, which the government has been making, needs tripartite consultation, said Tuomo Poutiainen, Bangladesh country director of the International Labour Organisation. “The country needs continuity of reforms to improve the standards and governance of the labour law,” Poutiainen added.
Source: The Daily Star, 21-01-2021