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Bangladesh labour laws fall short of protecting workers says HRW

Washington: The new labour laws as amended and enacted by the Bangladeshi Parliament fall far short of protecting worker's rights and meeting international standards, a leading rights body has said today.

"This would be good news if the new law fully met international standards, but the sad reality is that the government has consciously limited basic workers' rights while exposing workers to continued risks and exploitation," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.



The Human Rights Watch added that the new amendments deal with only some problematic provisions of the existing law, while leaving others untouched, in particular those related to workers union, which puts the workers at a disadvantage.

The rights body alleged that discriminatory anti-strike provisions in the law favour foreign investors by prohibiting strikes in any establishment during the first three years of operation if it is "owned by foreigners or is established in collaboration with foreigners.

"The amended law also seeks to redirect attention to so-called "Participation Committees" and "Safety Committees," largely powerless bodies made up of management and workers," it said.

"The government has not only missed a golden opportunity to get rid of provisions that limit workers' rights, it has even sunk into the law new and harmful regulations," Robertson added.

"Even after Rana Plaza, the government still is not fully committed to the protection of workers' rights and safety," he added.

The rights body has also alleged that the Bangladeshi government has failed to develop specific regulatory rules to carry out various provisions of the previous law, adopted in 2006, raising concerns about its willingness to implement new measures adding that the government has failed to carry out adequate factory inspections.

"The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) estimated in 2008 that the country had as few as 80 inspectors," it added.

"The Bangladesh government, European Union, and International Labour Organisation recognised this problem in a memorandum of understanding signed on July 8, 2012, which called for recruiting an additional 200 inspectors before the end of 2013" said the rights body.

It added that the government a long-term goal of upgrading the Department of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Establishments to a Directorate with a strength of 800 inspectors, having an adequate annual budget allocation, and the development of the infrastructure required for its proper functioning.


Updated Date: Jul 16, 2013 08:29 AM

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