Legislative reforms needed for a speedy resolution
The appeals tribunal should be designed as the administrative appeals tribunal to end the harassment workers face when it comes to resolving disputes, a lawmaker said yesterday.
When a verdict is reached in favor of the workers by the labor court, many factory owners appeal to the court.
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It takes a lot of time and money for workers to settle the appeal, although in most cases the disputed amount varies between Tk 60,000 and Tk 1 lakh, said Md Mojibul Haque, chairman of the standing parliamentary committee. of the Ministry of Labor and Employment. .
As a result, the verdict is delayed and workers lose interest in fighting the case, he said.
“If the labor appeals tribunal acts as the administrative tribunal, the workers will get the judgment within a certain period of time, and it will be useful to them.
The former Minister of State was speaking during a virtual dialogue on “Building the RMG sector in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGP)”, organized by the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in partnership with Christian Aid in Bangladesh.
The lawmaker said there were many loopholes in labor law.
“The ministry will take the initiative to amend the labor law again. I have a plan to suggest to the ministry to incorporate the amendment from the labor appeals tribunal,” the former minister said. State in charge of Labor and Employment.
Haque called for the creation of more dormitories for textile workers by taking loans from the central bank at an interest rate of 2 percent.
Labor Secretary Md Ehsan-E-Elahi said Bangladesh will ratify International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 138 to determine the minimum age for workers.
He said the ministry could only disburse Tk 7 crore to Tk 8 crore from the European Union and Germany fund, and the rest of the amount was inactive because the list of affected workers was missing. could not be found.
Last year, the EU and Germany gave Bangladesh € 113 million to distribute to workers in the export-oriented clothing and leather industries hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The ministry aims to pay the money to 72,000 workers with 3,000 Tk each for three months.
“We are going through a very difficult time as we struggle to revive our business from the fallout from Covid-19,” said Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Mohammad Hatem, first vice president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said international buyers were still talking about ethics but failed to meet ethical standards during the pandemic and canceled or indiscriminately suspended orders and demanded unusual deferred payment.
BGMEA director Vidiya Amrit Khan called for research beyond the garment industries as it also needs to be compliant.
Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed, worker activities specialist at the ILO office in New Delhi, said that in most cases, industrial sector labor disputes were resolved verbally while the laws existed.
At the event, the results of a study on “The State of UNGPs in the RMG Sector in Bangladesh” were shared.
The study was conducted in 600 garment factories in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Chattogram to find out the level of awareness of UNGP on business and human rights. Some 606 workers from 200 factories were covered by the study.
According to the study document, the clothing sector is far behind in institutionalizing the UNGP.
The concept of UNGP is not entirely clear to garment manufacturers, although they understand human and labor rights. Despite divergent levels of human rights and labor rights practices at the plant level, these marginal adherents to the UNGP.
“Overall, the practice of UNGP in the RMG sector is still in its infancy,” he said.
The report indicates that the process of institutionalizing UNGP has not yet started in the garment industry. A binding treaty in the event of the application of the UNGP would facilitate the process. The first step will be to strengthen the UNGP reporting system for factories.
Presenting the main findings, Khondaker Golam Moazzem, CPD research director, said that around 74% of workers recalled seeing posters inside or outside the factory with messages about human rights.
Ninety-one percent of workers said the poster contained messages related to child labor. Statements regarding sexual and workplace harassment, minimum living wages and maternity benefits were seen by more than 50 percent of workers.
The least discussed public disclosure issues are layoffs, layoffs and collective bargaining.
About 8.7 percent of workers have seen messages related to the layoff and dismissal and 16 percent to collective bargaining, Moazzem said.
“Such a directive will be very beneficial for garment factories to understand the problems, take action and improve practices.”
Fahmida Khatun, executive director of CPD, said that although the apparel industry experienced impressive growth in the post-Rana Plaza period, there were a number of social compliance issues that needed attention.
Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished member of the CPD, moderated the discussion. Christian Aid Country Director Pankaj Kumar also spoke.