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ILO defers decision on B'desh until Nov

Action against non-observance of 3 conventions

FE REPORT | March 24, 2022 00:00:00

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has deferred until next November its decision on taking further action against Bangladesh's non-observance of three core conventions.

The ILO in its draft decision also urged the Bangladesh government to report on further progress made in line with the roadmap at the 346th Session scheduled to be held in November 2022.

At the 108th ILO session in mid-June 2019, labour representatives from Italy, Japan, South Africa, Pakistan and Brazil sought an enquiry commission against the government of Bangladesh.

Dhaka was accused of discontinuing convention 87 on freedom of association and right to organise, convention 98 on right to organise and collective bargaining, and convention 81 on labour inspection.

The complainants also proposed forming a commission of enquiry against Bangladesh for non-observance of the said conventions.

Later, in November 2020, ILO asked Bangladesh to develop a time-bound roadmap to address all the concerns mentioned by the complainants.

Subsequently, Bangladesh developed a time-bound roadmap under four priority areas with a series of specific actions set against the timeline.

The four priority areas are: labour law reform, trade union registration, labour inspection and enforcement, and addressing acts of anti-union discrimination/unfair labour practices and violence against workers.

Bangladesh submitted its first progress report on the four areas to ILO on September 30 last year. The country also presented the latest progress report at the 344th governing body meeting held this week.

Meanwhile, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in a statement on Wednesday asked Bangladesh to improve conditions for workers by November or face a Commission of Inquiry, mentioning that Bangladesh had been put on notice.

In the statement, it has been explained that a Commission of Inquiry is the highest-level investigation that the ILO can carry out into a country that persistently fails to protect workers' rights.

Only 14 commissions of inquiry have been undertaken by the ILO. An investigation into Bangladesh would put the country alongside Belarus, Venezuela and Zimbabwe who have been subject to the most recent investigations, said the ITUC statement.

The ILO's roadmap to improve working conditions in Bangladesh is now a checklist of broken promises delivered by the government with alarming consequences for working people, it alleged.

Weekly reports are issued of deaths at work in Bangladesh alongside violent attacks against workers, and harassment and intimidation of trade union members.

"The government continues to ignore these deaths and violent attacks on its own citizens as it fails to make any meaningful progress to improve labour laws," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

"The prescription has been given by the ILO to improve workers' rights, but the government's continued refusal to take the medicine that will save workers lives and ensure decent work is beyond understanding."

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