A day-long orientation programme on Freedom of Association (FoA) for the officials of newly registered trade unions in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector was held in Dhaka on 22 April 2014.
Presidents and General Secretaries of over 140 newly registered trade unions in the RMG sector attended the orientation programme along with a number senior leaders from RMG trade union federations. The programme was aimed at sensitizing the trade union leaders on the issues of freedom of association, collective bargaining and related issues in the context of Bangladesh and the existing labour law.
“The changes in registration process and the change in the Labour Law in 2013 created an opportunity for more and more trade unions in the ready-made garment factories to be formed,” said Mr. Md. Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Labour and Employment, who attended the event as the chief guest. “The Government of Bangladesh encourage the workers of the garment factories to come forward and take this opportunity for positive and sustainable change in the sector,” added the minister.
Mr. Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships, ILO, who arrived in Dhaka also attended the inaugural session of the orientation programme.
“Registration of over 140 trade unions in the RMG sector in the last 15 months is a staggering growth compared to registration figures for the preceding years. The formation and registration of new trade unions is a sign of a new era of collective bargaining and freedom of association in Bangladesh which can act as a catalyst for change in other industries,” said the ILO Deputy Director-General.
Chaired by Mr Mikail Shipar, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment a number of senior trade union leaders attended the inaugural session. “It is very important that the trade union leaders know about the rights of the workers and also the procedure for collective bargaining, we welcome this initiative, which will have long-term impact” said Mr. Mikail Shipar.
The programme was jointly organized by the National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education (NCCWE), IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Reiterating ILO commitment to ensuring freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the ILO Country Director for Bangladesh, Mr Srinivasa B Reddy said, “The new trend of trade unions in RMG factories is welcome but it is just the beginning. The ILO is committed to supporting workers’ and employers’ organizations to build the capacity of factory based unions and help ensure realization of worker’s right in the long run.”
Mr Roy Ramesh Chandra, Secretary General, IndustriALL Bangladesh and Mr Md. Zafrul Hasan, Chairperson, National Coordination Committee for Workers Education were among the leaders who attended the inaugural session of the orientation programme.