See More on Facebook

Economics

Bangladesh eases trade union rules

The Cabinet okays labour law amendments in line with suggestions from ILO, EU, US.


Written by

Updated: September 4, 2018

The government yesterday 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 percent from the existing 30 percent.

The draft also proposed finishing the registration process of a trade union by 55 days instead of 60.

Besides, it provides for mandatory maternity leave and ban on child labour in factories. It curtails discrepancy power of the director general of the labour department in cancelling registration of a trade union.

“The cabinet approved the draft law in its weekly cabinet meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair,” Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam told a news briefing after the meeting.

“The amendments to the draft labour law have been proposed to make it suitable to the proposals of the International Labour Organisation to ensure labour-friendly atmosphere in every factory.”

Dhaka went to the International Labour Conference in Geneva, held from May 28 to June 8, with the draft of the amended labour law to satisfy the international community. The proposed law was accepted by the conference, according to labour ministry officials.

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.

They observed that the last amended labour law adopted in July 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse, made it difficult to collect consent of 30 percent workers of a factory to form a trade union. Since then, they have been demanding the threshold be lowered.

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.

Cabinet Secretary Shafiul Alam said the law proposed formation of a tripartite consultation committee (TCC) comprising workers, owners and government representatives to resolve any industrial dispute.

At the same time, he said, the draft incorporated tougher provisions to strictly prohibit misconduct on the part of owners and workers, reports BSS.

“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,” he added.

The draft proposed punitive actions for workers for acts like physical assault, issuing threat or mounting undue pressure to compel owners to sign any agreement, disrupting power, gas or water supplies, and unlawful shutdowns.

It said support of 51 percent workers would be required to enforce any work abstention or lock-out while it proposed reducing the jail term of a worker for taking part in any illegal lock-out to six months from one year.

The labour law was originally framed in 2006 to protect worker rights and increase productivity, which was radically amended in 2013.

The new draft proposed increased allowances and benefits and lessening punitive measures against the labourers. It also suggested that working hour of labourers in general should not be more than 10 hours a day excluding dining and rest time.

“However, the law kept provisions so the government can change the working time for specialised industries,” Shafiul Alam said.

According to the amended law, expectant mothers would be entitled to eight-week maternity leave and other benefits within three days of submission of necessary documents.

“An owner may face penalty of Taka 25,000 on charge of depriving an expectant mother of maternity leave,” he said, referring to the draft.

The law suggested that the labourers would get festival allowances as per the rules, and workers of the export-oriented and foreign exchange earning industries would enjoy the facilities from central group insurance policy.

At the same time, Shafiul said, the law prohibited engagement of children and physically challenged persons in any risky job.

Under the existing law, a child can do light work on condition that it would not be harmful to his health and his education won’t be hampered.  The draft seeks total ban on child labour in factories.

“Under the proposed law, no child will be allowed to work in factories. If anybody employs child workers, he or she will have to pay a fine of Tk 5,000,” said the cabinet secretary, reports UNB.

Every industrial unit having more than 25 workers must have arrangement of a dining and rest room with facilities of drinking water.

Workers, if they wish, can enjoy weekly holiday merging with festival holidays.

On any festival holiday, a worker can be asked to work in exchange of one-day alternative holiday and compensation allowances equivalent to wages of two days.

According to the draft law, the government would prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) for registration of the labour organisations.

A labour organisation would apply for registration in specific form and the director general of the Labour Directorate would resolve the application within 55 days.

A worker of an industry can be a member of only one trade union, the proposed law said but suggested one month imprisonment for dual membership.

The draft also proposed elevated status of the government’s inspection unit to be headed by a director general.

“Thus, the post of the labour inspector would be upgraded to inspector general, deputy director to additional inspector general, joint inspector to joint inspector general and assistant inspector to assistant inspector general,” the secretary said.

The position of the director of the Department of Labour would be elevated to the post of director general while other posts would be upgraded accordingly, the cabinet secretary said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Daily Star
About the Author: The Daily Star is a leading English-language daily newspaper in Bangladesh.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Economics

Cooperating on energy in face of tariffs

At Houston oil and gas industry forum, US, China executives discuss future. The US energy industry expects a strong long-term energy relationship with China, a US energy official told US and Chinese oil and gas executives the day after China announced a retaliatory 10 per cent tariff on US natural gas. Steve Winberg, US Energy Department assistant secretary for fossil energy, on Wednesday assured the energy executives that the US has never revoked a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export authorization, nor plans to do so. “Some potential exporters and financiers have expressed concern that the US may rescind or revoke LNG export authorization. Let me be very clear that these concerns are unfounded,” Winberg said on Wednesday at the opening of the two-day 18th US-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum in Houston. The forum has been a collaboration of the US Energy Department, Ch


By Cod Satrusayang
September 25, 2018

Economics

Swift assistance needed to rehabilitate Hokkaido’s quake-stricken industries

To realize Hokkaido’s post-quake rehabilitation, it is indispensable to rebuild its industries. A half month has passed since the Hokkaido earthquake, which registered the highest level on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7. A power blackout that spread to all parts of the prefecture has been resolved. The No. 1 unit at the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant — a facility that plays a central role in the supply of electricity there — has been brought back on line. The government has withdrawn its request for power-saving, and neon lighting has returned to flourishing areas in Sapporo. However, scars from the earthquake have not yet healed. Even if the amount of direct damage, including that caused to roads, rivers and forest land, is calculated alone, the figure exceeds ¥150 billion. There are still many disaster victims in evacuation centers. T


By The Japan News
September 25, 2018

Economics

Disruption seen from auto parts duty in US-China trade war

US tariffs on Chinese auto parts will probably result in higher prices and could disrupt the global automotive supply chain industry. The Trump administration has imposed a new 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that takes effect on Sept 24. Beginning on Jan 1, the tariffs will increase to 25 percent. China retaliated with $60 billion of new tariffs on US products. The new levies target more than 100 automotive products including engines, gaskets, rubber seals, tires and transmission shafts. Tariffs are basically taxes on the consumer, and all costs increases within the supply chain will eventually be passed along to the consumer, according to Peter Nagle, senior automotive analyst at IHS Markit. “In the short-term, suppliers might absorb some of the cost of the tariff but eventually they will have to raise prices or resource product from elsewhere, which also will rai


By China Daily
September 24, 2018

Economics

India launches world’s biggest healthcare programme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s ambitious healthcare program on Sunday. Deemed the “world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme”, the scheme will cover half a billion people through its network of hospitals and support services. Speaking at the event, the PM said that the number of beneficiaries is equivalent to the total population of the United States, Canada and Mexico or the entire European Union. “This is a major step taken to fulfil the vision of providing better healthcare facilities to the poorest of the poor and to those standing last in the queue,” the PM said. Following the launch, the PM informed the gathering that the scheme covers diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, kidney and liver problems, diabetes and over 1300 various ailments. “The treatment of the diseases can not only be done in government hospitals but also private hospitals,” said


By Cod Satrusayang
September 24, 2018

Economics

US exempts Korean steel from import tariff

The move is seen as a positive signal for the local steel industry. Steel products made by South Korea’s SL Tech has been excluded from the US’ steel tariffs, marking the first case of exemption since the US imposed a quota on Korean steel shipments this May, industry sources said Thursday. The US Commerce Department earlier this week accepted US medical device manufacturer Micro Stamping’s request for a tariff exemption on ultrafine steel tubes imported from Korean steel company SL Tech. Micro Stamping uses ultrafine steel tubes made by SL Tech to produce medical equipment. Korean steelmakers viewed the decision as a positive sign of a higher possibility of tariff exemptions, while remaining cautious over whether the same decision would be applied to steel products used for construction and household appliances.


By The Korea Herald
September 21, 2018

Economics

China hits back with tariffs on US$60b of US goods in trade war

China has hit back with reciprocal tariffs after President Trump imposed tariffs on over $200 billion of Chinese goods. China will impose tariffs on US$60 billion (S$82.3 billion) worth of US goods as retaliati


By The Straits Times
September 19, 2018