No trade union in 94 pc apparel factories

Moinul Haque

There is no right to trade union in 94 per cent of the apparel factories across the country, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
The number of the registration of trade unions is poor despite repeated commitment made by the government in its progress report on GSP action plan to the United States Trade Representative, said labour rights groups.
The survey on apparel sector found that there were trade unions in only 6 per cent factories while 60 per cent of the units introduced workers’ participation committee.
The survey conducted in 653 apparel factories in April-June period found that 24 per cent of the factories did not have required fire safety and fire fighting equipments.
According to the report, 358 of the 653 factories are affiliated to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, 89 are members of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and 206 are not affiliated to any trade body.
Though there was no bar on forming trade union in the Labour Act, the government had imposed an unofficial bar on forming trade unions in the apparel factories, Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies assistant executive director Sultan Ahmed told New Age on Saturday.
He said that after Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire, the government allowed trade unions in the apparel sector in the face of national and international pressure on the government on the issue, but the process was being hindered by the owners.
Sultan alleged that the workers directly involved in the process of forming trade unions were facing harassment.
The National Garment Workers Federation president, Amirul Haque Amin, said that workers were interested in forming trade unions to protect their rights, but the mindset of the factory owners was the main barrier.
He also alleged that the leaders of newly formed trade unions faced harassment, physical attack and termination.
A source at the labour ministry said that 190 trade unions in apparel sector got registered in the last one year and a half.
The survey found that 16 per cent of factories did not comply with the minimum wage board award for the garment workers in December 2013 and 66 per cent of the factories surveyed took no approval from factory inspectors for additional working hours at their units.
According to the survey, 32 per cent of the factories did not provide the workers with appointment letters and identity cards with photographs.
The report observed that 30 per cent of the factories did not allow maternity leave and allowances while 36 per cent of them did not maintain workers’ service book.
The report also found that 48 per cent of the factories did not maintain safety record books and boards while 46 per cent of them had no safety committee.
The chief inspector of the department, Syed Ahmed, said that the compliance issues had improved in the apparel sector and the department was working to correct the factories having shortfalls.
‘The factories remain under the strict monitoring and the department will take legal action against factories that will fail to ensure compliance within the stipulated time,’ he said.
He, however, said that the country made a significant improvement on the registration of trade unions in the apparel sector and the number of trade unions would increase gradually.


One Comment

  1. Fareed Wakil says:

    How can the owners have their trade union BGMEA and the workers can’t?

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