The government has decided to lower the threshold of workers’ membership for trade union registration in industries by only three percentage points to 27 per cent as the International Labour Organisation and European Union suggested reviewing the existing 30 per cent rate.
To meet the recommendation of the international community, the government is working on modification to some provisions including threshold for taking workers’ consent to launch trade union, amount of compensation and definition of workers.
According to the labour law, membership of at least 30 per cent of the workers is mandatory for the registration of a trade union at any establishment.
Trade union leaders and international labour rights advocates termed the provision as one of the barriers for the workers to form a trade union in Bangladesh’s industry.
International community and trade union leaders proposed lowering the requirements to 10 per cent.
‘We have informed ILO that the government has decided lowering the requisite rate of workers’ representation for trade union registration to 27 per cent from existing 30 per cent as we had sent a draft of revised labour law to the ILO on August 31 without mentioning the representation requirement threshold,’ state minister for labour Md Mujibul Haque Chunnu told New Age on Tuesday.
At the 331st session of the ILO governing body meeting held last week in Geneva, the junior minister verbally conveyed the decision of the government of lowering the representation requirement threshold to the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO.
‘Before attending the ILO governing body meeting, the prime minister finalised the decision reducing the requisite rate of workers’ representation by three per cent for trade union registration in industries,’ Mujibul said.
The high officials of the government and industry insiders said that considering the situation of industry, the government is determined not to allow more than three trade unions in a unit.
The labour ministry has sent the drafts of the amended labour law and export-processing zones law to
the ILO by August 31 as per the commitment Bangladesh made at the International Labour Conference held in Geneva in July last year.
The ILO provided special paragraph for Bangladesh in ILC 2016 suggesting amendments to the labour act to address the issue relating to freedom of association and collective bargaining and allowing labour organisations in the export processing zones.
It also recommended investigating all acts of anti-union discrimination.
European Union, the biggest trading partner of Bangladesh, warned the country of the suspension of trade facilities due to failure in addressing the special paragraph provided by the ILO.
The European Commission has warned Bangladesh of the suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences because of violation of labour rights and freedom of association.
Warning of the suspension of the Generalised System of Preferences, the EU urged Bangladesh to provide a time bound action plan for amending labour law and EPZ law.
Following the pressure from ILO and EU the government initiated a move for amending the laws in the month of June this year.
State minister for labour said that during the 331st session of ILO governing body meeting, an informal sideline meeting was held between Bangladesh delegation and Corinne Vargha, director of International Labour Standard Department over the draft of BLA and EPZ labour law.
‘We requested the Standard Department of ILO to provide us the views of the office for further development of the draft amendment of BLA and initial draft of EPZ Labour Act,’ Mujibul said.
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