The government has submitted a time-bound action plan to the European Union to address within six months to two years most of the bloc’s concerns on labour rights in Bangladesh
It has promised to frame the Bangladesh Labour Rules by amending the existing one in line with the Bangladesh Labour (amended) Act 2018 by the first half of the current year and to revise the BLA further by the end of 2022 in line with the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation.
The government on Thursday submitted the time-bound action plan to the EU in response to a call from the union to take decisive steps and lasting measures to address shortcomings in human and labour rights to continue receiving tariff preferences within the economic bloc under everything but the arms facility.
In the last week of November 2019, the EU provided a list of ‘suggested actions on labour rights’ to the Bangladesh government and requested it to develop and submit to it a draft time-bound roadmap by January 2 to address the issues.
The nine issues concerned are amendment of the Bangladesh Labour Act, labour rules and EPZ labour law in line with the International Labour Organisation conventions, establishment of an action plan to eliminate child labour by 2025, combating violence against workers, increasing the success rate of trade union registration application, eliminating the backlog of cases at labour courts, filling of the vacant posts of labour inspectors, ensuring the proper functioning of the remediation coordination cell and ratifying the ILO conventions 29 and 138.
‘We have already submitted a time-bound action plan to the EU setting the timeframe between six months and six years to implement the suggested actions on labour rights provided by the economic bloc,’ labour secretary KM Ali Azam told New Age on Saturday.
He said that Bangladesh had placed its roadmap to address the EU’s concerns on specific labour issues and experts from both the EU and Bangladesh would finalise the action plan in February with support from the ILO.
The labour secretary said that his ministry had prepared and sent the action plan to the EU upon consultation with the stakeholders and related ministries and departments, including commerce, foreign and law ministries.
He said that the labour ministry had promised to publish the Gazette notice regarding the amendment of the BLR by the first half of this year and a tripartite committee for further amendment to the BLA would be formed in the third quarter of 2021.
Ali Azam also said that his ministry had communicated with the authority concerned over the issues related to the EPZ Labour Act and the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority would formulate the required action plan.
The labour ministry has pledged to complete the amendment to the BLA by the end of 2022 saying that a reasonable gestation time was required to acquire the implementation experience before further amendments to the law.
The EU suggested removal of the BLA provisions that allow imprisonment of workers for taking part in activities of unregistered trade unions and restrict establishment of trade unions to stop interference in trade union elections and activity.
The government has also vowed to impart capacity building training to the inspectors of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments by 2023 to eliminate child labour by 2025.
It has also committed to make the three newly established labour courts in Sylhet, Barishal and Rangpur fully functional by the end of this year and to establish four new labour courts in Narayanganj, Gazipur, Cumilla and Faridpur by 2021 to eliminate the backlog of labour cases.
In addition, the government has promised to fill the vacant posts of labour inspectors by the first quarter of next year.
The action plan said that the DIFE would consult the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh Employers Federation by the mid of this year to identify the possibilities of working with the RMG Sustainability Council to effectively prevent workplace accidents.
The labour ministry has also pledged to ratify the ILO protocol 29 on force labour by the end of this year.
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