The government has moved to retain the generalised system of preference (GSP) facility in the US market by allowing workers at factories to form trade unions.
Cabinet on Monday provisionally approved a proposal to amend the Bangladesh
Labour Act 2006 that also aims at ensuring the workers personal security,
organisational safety, increase in gratuity facilities, health services and
their rights, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told
The approval was given on principle at the regular Cabinet
meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He said that the law
proposed inclusion of provisions to have collective bargaining agents (CBA) in
large organisations and ‘participatory committees’ in the small ones.
was mandatory to submit a list of names of the trade unions to the owners in
line with the current Act which caused many problems. But it won’t need to be
done after the Act is amended,” Bhuiyan added.
If the new law is passed
in Parliament, a worker in the job for more than 15 years at an organisation
would get gratuity equal to one and a half months of salary every year.
Currently, the workers get gratuity equal to one month’s salary after they
complete one year at the workplace.
The proposed Act also says that a
factory with more than 5,000 workers must have a clinic with proper facilities
to provide healthcare services to the workers. Alternative measures should also
be kept if there are fewer numbers of workers.
The big buyers of
Bangladeshi textile products have long been urging the readymade garment
entrepreneurs to improve workplace environment and ensure the rights of the
workers to form trade unions. The government was also under pressure to retain
the duty-free access of Bangladeshi apparels to the US market.
Cabinet Secretary said that the new law puts priority on personal safety and
security of the workers providing specific directives about the building
structure, safe stairs and exit, power connection and other utility
For garment workers, the law proposes separate rule to
constitute a welfare fund under a panel or board. A separate board will be
formed to this end, Cabinet Secretary Bhuiyan said.
The cases on a breach
of the law will be heard at the Labour Court, District Magistrate’s Court or
Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.
The new law proposes six months of
imprisonment and a maximum fine of Tk 25,000 for obstructing investigations into