Labour law reform meeting calls for freedom of association

Staff Correspondent | Published: 18:15, Aug 22,2017


The Solidarity Center, Bangladesh organises a consultation meeting on ‘Freedom of Association and Beyond: Prospects and Opportunities for Labour Law Reform’ at BRAC Centre Inn in Dhaka on Tuesday.— New Age photo

Rights activists at a consultation on Tuesday called for a uniform law which would also include workers at export processing zones who are at present more controlled by the EPZ authority.

Meanwhile, experts also said that the opinions of labour lawyers should be taken so that there remain no loopholes in the reformed law with inclusion of the ILO statements.

These concerns came from a consultation meeting on ‘Freedom of Association and Beyond: Prospects and Opportunities for Labour Law Reform’ organised by The Solidarity Center, Bangladesh at the BRAC Centre Inn. Labour law experts, employers and trade unionists called for participatory, inclusive and comprehensive legal reform that serves the interests of all stakeholders.

Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed, assistant executive director for Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies said that almost 65 per cent workers are not included under the labour law.

He said, ‘for freedom of association to truly be realised, reform must include an expansion of the definition of a “worker”.’

Babul Akter, president of Bangladesh Garment Industrial Workers Federation said that unions are forced to meet a set of bureaucratic, burdensome and meaningless requirements, which allows officials to arbitrarily and unfairly reject union applications.

Mahbubul Huq, president of the Labour Court Bar Association, added that if workers are discriminated against and/or lose their jobs due to union activity, there must be a credible process in place for them to swiftly obtain justice and to be reinstated.

Jennifer Kuhlman, country director of Solidarity Center, Bangladesh, and Timothy Ryan, the organisations’s regional program director said that the government now has a unique opportunity to reform the Bangladesh Labour Act and Export Processing Zones Authority Act expressing hopes that it could be done through a broad-based input from stakeholders and the people, building consensus and creating a more just and reliable legal framework.

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