The government has started discussions with stakeholders on the draft amendments to the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 as the International Labour Organisation expressed reservations about the proposed changes.
A tripartite committee formed by the government held its first meeting on Sunday to address the ILO concerns.
Labour ministry officials, factory owners and labour leaders attended the meeting held at Bangladesh Secretariat.
Under pressure from trade union leaders and international labour rights advocates, the government had prepared the draft amendments to the labour law and sent it to the ILO on August 31 last year.
An expert committee of the ILO recently expressed dissatisfaction over the proposed amendments and requested the government to take measures, in consultation with the social partners, to continue reviewing and amending relevant provisions of the labour act in order to ensure that any restrictions on the exercise of the right to freedom of association were in conformity with the ILO conventions.
The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations of ILO requested the government to review sections 179(2) and 179(5) of the labour act without delay, saying that the proposed amendments did not respond to the longstanding concerns.
‘It was the first meeting of the committee and we talked about the observations made by the ILO expert committee,’ labour ministry joint secretary Aminul Islam told New Age.
The meeting ended without any decision and the committee would sit on Sunday next, he added.
ANM Saifuddin, director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that they would give their opinion in the meeting for not lowering the minimum membership requirements for trade union registrations from the proposed four slabs.
Lowering the existing 30 per cent threshold, the government in the draft amendments proposed four slabs of worker representation: to get
the trade union registration in an establishment with less than 2,000 workers, the minimum requirement would remain 30 per cent; for enterprises with 2,001 to 5,000 workers, it would be 27 per cent; for 5,001 to 7,500 workers, it would be 24 per cent; and for 7,501 workers or more, 20 per cent.
State minister for labour Mujibul Haque told New Age recently that the government had decided in principle to lower the membership requirement threshold for trade union registration to 20 per cent.
‘We are going to propose two slabs of worker representation: for up to 5,000 workers in an establishment, the membership requirement threshold would be 25 per cent and for 5,001 workers or more, it would be 20 per cent,’ he said.
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