Govt commits amendments to labour, EPZ laws by December

Dhaka,  Thu,  24 August 2017
Published : 13 Jun 2017, 21:25:42

Govt commits amendments to labour, EPZ laws by December

Submits paper to ILO confce
Monira Munni

The government has sought time until November and December 2017 to amend the EPZ and labour laws in the light of recommendations of the ILO, officials said.

The government, in its paper submitted to the 106th International Labour Conference (ILC), now in progress in Geneva, has set the deadline, they said.

They said that the timeframe has been made in response to the recent call from the European Union as well.

The EU, in a letter dated May 31 to the government, set August 2017 deadline for making tangible progress in addressing the International Labour Organization's (ILO) recommendations including fundamental labour rights  to avert any punitive measures by the regional grouping.

"We have sought time until November and December this year for preparing the drafts of revised labour law and EPZ law in consultation with the ILO," labour secretary Mikail Shipar, who is attending the ILC, told the FE Tuesday.

      There would be a discussion in the ILC Committee on the Applications of Standards in this regard, he added.   

The EU asked for undertaking legislative changes to the Bangladesh Labour Act and implementing rules to lower the membership threshold requirements for unionisation to 10 per cent from 30 per cent in line with the ILO standards and to allow full freedom of association by August 2017.

The EC also asked for amendments to the EPZ law to bring it in line with the ILO standards and allow full freedom of association by this time and adopt them before the next ILC to be held in June in 2018.

Responding the EU's deadline for investigating unfair labour practices (ULP) in a transparent and accountable manner by August next, the government in the paper mentioned that the Department of Labour (DoL) is authorised to receive complaints about such acts and it is already in process.

From 2013 to 2016, some 93complaints relating to unfair practices were lodged with DoL, Dhaka Office, it said, adding out of these, 80 complaints were settled while 35 criminal cases were filed whereas 45 complaints were settled amicably and 13 were under investigation.

The disposal rate was relatively high in 2016, where all of the 71 cases were settled with a disposal rate of 100 per cent.

At present, the status of 69 cases of anti-union discrimination is available on the DoL's website, which consists of 46 settled cases and 23 ongoing cases.

Regarding the recruitment of outstanding 269 labour inspectorate by June next year, the government said that some 169 posts are vacant and process has already been initiated to recruit the remaining inspectors on a priority basis.

     "The BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and Accord are in active discussion to frame the post-2018 entity of Accord and it shall be concluded within November 2017," the government said in the paper.

 Before 2013, there were 132 trade unions in the country's readymade garment (RMG) sector, which stood at 571at the end of April 30, according to the paper.  

 The rate of success in trade union registration in Dhaka Division since early 2017 is 75 per cent.

 As of 30 April 2017, there were a total of 7,726 registered trade unions and 175 trade union federations, it revealed adding that the number of trade unions was 6,726 and federations were 161 before 2013.

 In order to further ease the union registration process, an online registration system has been introduced on the website of the DoL and from 2016, the causes of rejection of any application were communicated in a transparent manner by registered post within 60 days of rejection, the report noted.

 At present, the status of 171 trade union applications, which include 129 successful cases of application and 42 cases of rejection, is available on DoL's website.

It contains relevant information on the submission and resolution of registration requests including the reasons for rejections of applications.

 A total of 226 complaints from the garment sector workers were received from Ashulia through a helpline, launched in March 2015 as a pilot.

 Among them, 142 complaints were settled by the inspectors and the rest -84 complaints - are under process of settlement. Most of the complaints were on wages, overdue payment and job termination.

 After gaining sufficient experience from the pilot operations, the government will formally replicate or expand the model in other areas and industrial sectors, according to the report.
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