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INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC)

INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED CORE LABOUR STANDARDS IN BANGLADESH REPORT FOR THE WTO GENERAL COUNCIL REVIEW OF THE TRADE POLICIES OF BANGLADESH (Geneva, 24 and 26 September, 2012) EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Bangladesh has ratified seven of the eight core ILO labour Conventions. In view of restrictions on the trade union rights of workers, discrimination, child labour, and forced labour, determined measures are needed to comply with the commitments Bangladesh accepted at Singapore, Geneva and Doha in the WTO Ministerial Declarations over 19962001, and in the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its 2008 Social Justice Declaration. The law of Bangladesh does not adequately provide for freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike. The law establishes excessive requirements and complicated procedures in order to register a trade union and, in practice, the registrar rejects many applications. Employers are not impeded from using various anti-union practices including threats, dismissals, legal suits against unionists and intimidation. The police often use excessive force to disperse protesting workers, in some cases causing deaths and often causing injuries. Export Processing Zones (EPZs) fall under special labour legislation whereby basic rights are not permitted and workers are prevented from organising and bargaining collectively. Some forms of discrimination against women are prohibited but the law does not extend adequate protection to women, disabled persons and persons living with HIV/AIDS. Women are not protected against sexual harassment at the workplace, which is a serious problem in Bangladesh. Women face a big gender pay gap and tend to be concentrated in low paid sectors of the economy. Child labour is not regulated in compliance with international standards and enforcement is ineffective. 7 million children are at work of whom 1.3 million are engaged in the worst forms of child labour. Children perform a wide range of jobs in all sectors. The law imposes penalties involving compulsory labour as a punishment for breaches of labour discipline and for having participated in strikes. It does not protect migrating workers from fraudulent recruitment and many such workers are coerced into bonded labour. There are reports of complicity by authorities and politicians with organised crime in trafficking. The law does not permit Bangladeshi migrant workers to maintain union membership or association with their trade union after migrating abroad.

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INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED CORE LABOUR STANDARDS IN BANGLADESH Introduction This report on the respect of internationally recognised core labour standards in Bangladesh is one of the series the ITUC is producing in accordance with the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the first Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) (Singapore, 9-13 December 1996) in which Ministers stated: "We renew our commitment to the observance of internationally recognised core labour standards." The fourth Ministerial Conference (Doha, 9-14 November 2001) reaffirmed this commitment. These standards were further upheld in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted by the 174 member countries of the ILO at the International Labour Conference in June 1998 and in the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation adopted unanimously by the ILO in 2008. The ITUC affiliates in Bangladesh, which have a membership of 526,000 persons covering various areas of employment, are the Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC), Bangladesh Jatyatabadi Sramik Dal (BJSD), Bangladesh Labour Federation (BLF), Bangladesh Mukto Sramik Federation (BMSF), Bangladesh Sanjukta Sramik Federation (BSSF) and Jatio Sramik League (JSL). I. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining In 1972, Bangladesh ratified...