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Bangladesh's Parliament passes new labour law
Jul '13
The Jatiya Sangsad, Bangladesh’s Parliament, has passed the Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill 2013, under which workers would not need to seek approval from their employers to form trade unions.
The earlier version of the labour law, passed in 2006, gave employers the power to veto the creation of unions, and hence, the number of trade unions in Bangladesh garment sector remains small.
The new labour law also requires factories that sell products within Bangladesh to set aside 5 percent of their net profits in a welfare fund.
Over 85 sections of the earlier version have been amended after consultations with various stakeholders including representatives of workers, garment factory owners, buyers and the International Labour Organization.
However, the old provision of gathering signatures of at least 30 percent of a company’s workers to form a union remains unchanged. But the new law prohibits the Ministry of Labour from passing on the list of signatories to factory owners.
The new labour law would help Bangladesh to retain the existing Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility in the EU market, and help withdrawal of the suspension of the GSP facility in the US market.
In June 2013, the US Government suspended its GSP privileges to Bangladesh citing lack of labour standards and poor work conditions in Bangladesh factories, especially garment factories.
The Bangladeshi Government was under intense international pressure to improve work and safety conditions and amend labour laws for the garment workers, after the April 24 Rana Plaza building collapse that killed over 1,100 workers.
Bangladesh’s garment industry has grown at a rapid pace and the country is now the world’s second largest apparel exporter, next only to China. However, the work and safety conditions have not been able to improve at the same pace.
Meanwhile, the New York-based Human Rights Watch has said the amendments to Bangladesh’s labour law brings some improvements over the existing one, but still they fall short of meeting international standards.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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