The visiting delegation of the European Union (EU) during its meeting with the officials of the Commerce Ministry and Labour Ministry pressed the Government for a time-bound action plan to address their concerns over the labour right situation in Bangladesh to continue receiving trade benefits under Everything But Arms (EBA) regime while also recommending allowing trade unions instead of workers’ welfare associations in the factories located in export processing zones (EPZs), claimed media reports.
The report also claimed that as per Labour Ministry officials, the EU also recommended that Bangladesh ratifies ILO Convention 138 on the minimum age for employment.
At the meeting, the Labour Ministry reportedly informed the EBA follow-up mission about the progress Bangladesh has made on issues related to amendment to BLA, initiative for revisiting labour rules, update on Bangladesh EPZ Labour Act, trade union registration, anti-union discrimination and measures to eliminate forced labour and child labour.
Labour Secretary KM Ali Azam informed the delegation that Bangladesh amended its labour act twice in 11 years to make sure that it conformed to the international standards while adding that his Government has started work to amend the labour rules.
“We have been working with BGMEA, BKMEA, BEF, workers’ union and federations, police forces on how to resolve those cases. In the meantime, we resolved some of the cases and the remaining would be resolved in the coming days, I believe,” the Labour Secretary reportedly said at the meeting, responding to EU’s demand to withdraw criminal charges filed against the workers.