‘Follow own agenda’ to develop labour market, standards

Dhaka,  Fri,  18 August 2017
Published : 24 Apr 2017, 00:26:05

‘Follow own agenda’ to develop labour market, standards

FE Report

The country needs to follow its own agenda, rather than pursuing a foreign-directed agenda, to uplift the labour market and standards to achieve a higher economic growth, Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Footwear Limited said Sunday.

"Somebody would come from a foreign country to direct us what to do on labour standards and we would oblige as such, the days are no more," he said while speaking as a panel speaker at a session on 'Potential Growth and its Role in Policy' of a two-day conference in a city hotel.

Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) organised the conference titled "BIDS Critical Conversations, 2017" with the theme "The Bangladesh Journey -- Accelerating Transformation".

Mr Manzur said: "We must follow our own domestic agenda. We've enough protection in the new labour law, but there is a lack of enforcement. We have to implement our law properly."

He said the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) is supposed to provide US$100 million for enhancing safety in the factories, but not a single penny came to date.

The former president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Bangladesh is subject to double standards with regards to workers and factory safety.

Bangladesh is not competitive as the cost of doing business here is very high, he said.

He said there is a geographical mismatch in terms of a geographical availability of labour. "We cannot set up a factory where there is abundance of labour and, on the other hand, we do not find labour where we set up factories."

He urged the stakeholders to make partnership among educational institutes and industries while urging academics to deglamorise BBA and MBA degrees. "There is a scarcity of technically-educated workforce, but there is an abundance of BBAs and MBAs," he said.

BIDS director general Dr KAS Murshid presented a trigger paper on a topic titled 'The labour Market: Major Issues and Challenges', posing a question if the market intervention does really help.

"Should we not leave wages to the market to be decided?" he said.

He also pointed out that the trade unions could push wages beyond what is justified by the market. "The push may reduce employment."

About the efforts by the Accord and Alliance, he said that Bangladesh is being unduly singled out on the labour standard issues. The GSP was not withheld from Nepal, India, Vietnam, China, Cambodia etc.

Economics Professor of North South University ATM Nurul Amin, BRAC director of skills development programme Tahsinah Ahmed and CEO of US Systems Ltd Farhana Rahman also spoke at the session.

Executive chairperson of Centre for Development and Employment Research Dr Rushidan Islam moderated the session.

Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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