Bangladesh approved a Labour Law to boost Worker Rights

Jul 15, 2013 18:10 IST

Bangladesh approved a Labour Law on 15 July 2013 to boost worker rights, including the freedom to form trade unions, after a factory building collapse in April killed 1,132 garment workers and sparked debate over labour safety and rights.

The legislation puts in place following provisions;
• Including a central fund to improve living standards of workers,
• A requirement for 5 percent of annual profits to be deposited in employee welfare funds
• An assurance that union members will not be transferred to another factory of the same owner after labour unrest.

The legislation is an important step towards curbing rising cases of exploitation in a country with 4 million garment factory workers. However, it failed to address several concerns and blamed the government for enacting the law in a hurry to please foreigners.

Bangladesh was under pressure to adopt a better Labour Law after the European Union, which gives preferential access to the country's garment industry, threatened punitive measures if it did not improve worker safety standards.

Tax concessions offered by Western countries and low wages have helped turn Bangladesh's garment sector into the country's largest employment generator with annual exports worth USD 21 billion. 60 percent of exports go to Europe. The collapse of the Rana Plaza complex on 24 April 2013, built on swampy ground outside Dhaka with several illegal floors, ranked among the world's worst industrial accidents. A fire at another garment factory in 2012 killed 112 people.

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