Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Sunday recommended introduction of social dialogue in the RMG sector, a practice of making public policy through engaging all stakeholders – the government, employers and worker representatives.
The think tank along with International Labour Organisation (ILO) organised the dialogue at Gardenia restaurant in Gulshan on the occasion of the Rana Plaza disaster’s fourth anniversary.
ILO Country Director Srinivas B Reddy explained the importance of social dialogue, saying: “It provides a tool to build trust and inclusion, and to reduce the risk of labour unrest. Enhanced social dialogue can help workers and employers to form a high quality partnership where they share goals and objectives. By providing all social partners with an opportunity to engage in the decisions that shape their society, social dialogue can help to constructively reduce inequalities.”
The discussion “Catalysing social dialogue in the RMG sector of Bangladesh” was presided over by CPD Chairperson Prof Rehman Sobhan who said workers have to be made fundamental stakeholders in the enterprises, where they work and where they are seen as business partners rather than dependent on the market forces in order to establish a balanced relationship between the employees and the employers.
He spoke on the inaction of the government about the largest industrial disaster in Bangladesh. “This is the fourth year of the Rana Plaza tragedy and, the shame on the country, but I have not noticed, on the anniversary of Rana Plaza over the last four years, any discussion in the highest body of the land – our parliament – to see progress has been made and what level of accountability has been achieved and exercised by the government.
“The disaster brought to light the whole weakness in the governance system, shedding light on a complete lack of oversight and a politically influential property owner who could use its influence to ensure the enforcement mechanism is not put in place,” said Prof Rehman Sobhan.
Studies on social dialogue revealed the challenges of implementing the process is a lack of interest or unwillingness of governments and stakeholders which may be due to the prevailing tradition and “weakness” of social partners.
The CPD chairperson said: “I have not seen any parliamentary committee sitting and made responsible for overseeing all the critical elements which are actually being put in place to see whether they are being enforced.
“This is a question that the lawmakers should address.” He added that the highest legal and political bodies in Bangladesh should constantly address this issue and exercise their political oversight to sort out problems at the heart of the Rana Plaza tragedy.
CPD Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem presented the data from his study on the Rana Plaza disaster at the dialogue called “Strengthening social dialogue mechanism under weak enabling environment: case of RMG sector.”
Distinguished Fellow of CPD Debapriya Bhattacharya moderated the discussion while Secretary of Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) Mikail Shipar, and Vice-President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu spoke, among others, at the discussion.