Labour rights groups on Saturday demanded further amendment of Bangladesh Labour Act to make it friendly for workers removing a number of repressive provisions.
In a national labour convention on identifying inconsistencies in existing labour laws, labour leaders alleged that the rights of workers had been gradually reduced in every amendment of labour act as workers representatives failed to play their due roles in the process.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council organised the convention held at BMA Auditorium in the city.
After formulating Bangladesh Labour Act 2006, amendments were brought twice in 2013 and 2018.
Labour leaders in the convention demanded that the government should bring the export processing zones and special economic zones under the jurisdiction of Bangladesh Labour Act scraping EPZ Labour Act.
They also demanded to widen the area of the definition of workers to bring all the wage-workers under the benefit entitled in labour act.
Labour leaders demanded to incorporate an independent clause related to casual leave and sick leave in the labour act as the existing procedure for leave in the act was only applicable for yearly leave.
Trade union leaders demanded amendment of termination related section 27 of labour act and said that in case of resign of workers from service, the continuation of service should be one year instead of present five years for getting compensation from employer.
They also demanded to reduce the membership threshold for trade union registration to 10 per cent of total workers, to ease the procedure to ensure participation of workers in the profit of companies, to increase the maternity leave to six months from existing four months and allow trade union federations for receiving financial assistance from external sources.
Demanding to scrap the section 23(3) of labour act, trade union leaders said that it was nothing but a repressive provision that if any worker was dismissed for misconduct, he would not get any compensation.
Razekuzzaman Ratan, general secretary of Samajtantrik Sramik Front said that the rights of workers had been squeezed in every amendment due to the strong nexus between the government and the owners.
Demanding a democratic labour act, he urged all to organise a tough movement to achieve the goal.
Chowdhury Ashikul Alam, general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Sangha, said that there were many inconsistencies in the labour act and the government should address the issues.
He said the government has taken an initiative to amend labour rules and trade union leaders should look into the issue so that owners could not include any clauses in the rules which would go against the workers.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh would have to maintain labour standard strictly to continue duty-free market access in European Union in the coming days as the country was going to be graduated to a middle income country from least developed one.
He suggested devising Standard Operating Procedure for the labour courts to reduce the case backlog.
Sirajul Ialam Roni, president of Bangladesh Garment Workers-Employees League, said that there were many instruments in the labour act to deprive the workers.
‘Labour act is doing against the interest of workers day by day as we are divided.’ he said.
Nazma Akter, president of Combined Garment Workers Federation, said that the basic wages of garment workers had been reduced in the wage board since 2010.
She demanded 60 per cent basic of gross pay for RMG workers and six moth maternity leave for women workers.
IBC chairman Gias Uddin, secretary general Salahuddin Shapon, former IBC president Amirul Haque Amin, former secretary Towhidur Rahman and Bangladesh Sramik Sanghati Federation president Ruhul Amin, among others spoke at the event.
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