EU concerned over refusal to register TUs

Staff Correspondent

The European Union has expressed concern over the recent refusals to register trade unions, attempts to limit their freedom of expression and the lack of measures to address intimidation and violence against workers in Bangladesh.
The EU said that the Bangladesh has made much progress since signing the Sustainability Compact a year ago, but further work is urgently required to ensure safety and health at place of work as well as freedom of association in line with commitments.
EU on Wednesday unveiled the progress report titled ‘Staying Engaged: Bangladesh Sustainability Compact—One Year On’ reviewing progress by this time and urged the government for completing other commitments.
‘We urge the government to complete the labour law reforms, training and recruitment of inspectors and to create the conditions for meaningful freedom of association,’ European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and Commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion Laszlo Andor said in a joint statement.
They said that Better labour conditions would support sustainable trade links with many markets, especially the European Union.
EU, together with the authorities of Bangladesh, the United States and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched the Sustainability Compact one year ago just after the Rana Plaza disaster in which more than 1,100 readymade garment workers killed, most of them women.
The Sustainability Compact seeks to improve labour, health and safety conditions for workers, as well as to encourage responsible behaviour by businesses in the readymade garment industry in the South Asian country.
Since then, Bangladesh has made much progress including amendment of labour law to strengthen freedom of association and collective bargaining and occupational safety and health, the report said.
Many new trade unions have been established and more workers are aware of their rights and are seeking to assert them. In addition, there are now common standards for factory inspections. The inspections are on-going, more inspectors are being recruited and their findings are being made publicly available. Bangladesh also qualified for the Better Work Programme of ILO.
‘But further work is urgently required in line with Compact commitments. Additional inspectors need to be trained, recruited and be able to work,’ the report stated.
Bangladesh’s ability to ensure safety and health at work as well as freedom of association and collective bargaining must continue to improve, it said.
Implementing regulations need to be adopted swiftly and further amendments to the legislation are necessary in line with ILO recommendations and new legislation must be implemented effectively, it added.
It also said that working conditions must improve in practice and workers must be free to organise and exercise their right to collective bargaining without fear of anti-union discrimination, harassment, intimidation or harm.
The report said that an additional cause for concern was recent refusals to register trade unions, attempts to limit their freedom of expression and the lack of measures to address intimidation and violence against workers.
The situation needs to be redressed so as to ensure sustainable improvements in labour conditions in Bangladesh, it said.


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