Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 was enacted for amending and consolidating the laws relating to employment of workers, relations between workers and employers, determination of minimum rates of wages, payment of wages, compensation for injuries to workers during working hours, formation of trade unions, raising and settlement of industrial disputes, health, safety, welfare and working conditions and environment of workers and apprenticeship and matters adjuvant thereto. In order to make the labour law more efficient, amendments have been made to it several times and finally the latest amended law was enacted in the year 2013 as “Bangladesh Labour Act 2006”. Subsequently as the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (Government of Bangladesh) was under pressure from various sources to promulgate the Labour Rules for a long time, the Government of Bangladesh has also introduced Bangladesh Labour Rules2015(Rule of 2015) on 15 September 2015 through a gazette.
In reaction to the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April 2013, the “Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labour Rights and Factory Safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh” (Sustainability Compact) was built on short and long term commitments related to three inter-linked pillars: 1) respect for labour rights; 2) structural integrity of buildings and occupational safety and health; and 3) responsible business conduct. The Government of Bangladesh, European Union (EU), the United States (US), Canada and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) engaged in this joint initiative in order to promote continuous improvements in labour rights and factory safety in the Ready-Made Garment (‘RMG’) industry in Bangladesh.
However, as per the World Report 2017 (Bangladesh) of the Human Rights Watch, Bangladeshi authorities again failed to implement their commitments under the Sustainability Compact in 2016. No amendment has been made to the Labour Act and laws governing Export Processing Zones. These amendments were required to bring the working conditions for garments sectors in line with international standards. The Sustainability Compact for Bangladesh covers “respect for labour rights, in particular freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining,” as well as “responsible business conduct.” The failure by the garment industry and the government of Bangladesh to stick to its principles marks this industry and portends the economy and stability of Bangladesh.
The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, in Article 14, states that –
“It should be a fundamental responsibility of the State to emancipate the toiling masses – the peasants and workers - and backward section of the people from all forms of exploitation”. The truth is that so much has to be done to make the above constitutional vision of worker deliverance from all forms of exploitation veracity. Economic reforms are perceptibly looked for to place Bangladesh on the path of stable, job-full and wide-ranging growth process.
Political reforms are also compulsory to assure that growth is sustained in the framework of an unwavering democratic society in Bangladesh.
The writer is an Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh