Govt to place draft labour law at dev partners’ meet

June 30, 2013

The government is going to explain the draft labour law (amendment) 2013 at the Local Consultative Group (LCG) plenary meeting with its development partners on Sunday. Though the LGC plenary meeting is a routine matter for the government to inform the development partners about its overall policy on different issues, including the political situation, it will also place the draft labour law. It provides for far-reaching reforms for welfare of the workers, particularly those in the garment industry, the country’s biggest export sector, sources at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) said.
The co-chairs of the LCG, ERD secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad and UN resident coordinator Neal Walker will jointly conduct the meeting, in which representatives from all development partners, including the World Bank, ADB, IDB, JICA will participate.
Coming in the wake of suspension of the GSP facility for Bangladesh by the US administration on Thursday, the meeting between the Government of Bangladesh and the development partners is going to be held at the conference room of the National Economic Council (NEC) at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar at 10 am.
Suspension of the GSP facility, citing poor working conditions for garment workers, came as a blow to Bangladesh’s image and may have a long-term damaging effect on the economy if the decision is not revoked soon. In the light of this development, the LCG meeting is important for Bangladesh, sources at the ERD said.
On May 13, the cabinet approved the draft of the Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act, 2013, aimed at protecting the interests and rights of workers and ensuring their safety.
Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, cabinet secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the amendment to the Labour Act will make the law meet the demands of the time, as well as protect the interests and rights of the workers and ensure their security. “It will also help increase productivity, as it has a relation with the welfare of the workers,” he added.
According to the amended labour law, the owners of factories or relevant officials will have to face punishment, if they create any barrier to form the CBA or participatory committee.
Provisions ensuring group insurance for all workers and payment system of gratuity have also been defined in the new law, which will be sent to the law and justice division of the law ministry for vetting.
As per the draft law, group insurance will be made compulsory for garment factories where there are a minimum of 100 workers. The factory authorities will deliver the insurance money to their spouses after collecting it from insurance companies, if any worker dies. If they face any dispute, they will hand over the insurance money to the particular court. They have to pay it within 90 days of claiming the insurance money.
According to the draft law, it will allow the workers to form “Collective Bargaining Agent” and “Participatory Committee” at their workplaces. There is no need to send the names of committee members to factory owners as per the existing labour law.
Owners will have to set up a clinic providing healthcare for workers at the factory, where up to 5,000 people are employed. The workers of other industries will also get medicare facilities from the owners.
Under the draft law, a new clause has been included, keeping the provision of forming “welfare board and welfare fund” for the export-oriented garment factories. A board, which will be formed under the law, will handle the fund.

-With The Independent input

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