International Labour Organization (ILO) outgoing Bangladesh Country Director Srinivas B Reddy has said the organization will focus on social dialogue to promote freedom of association, collective bargaining, workplace safety, skills development for market needs and labor migration in Bangladesh for the next five years.
Reddy made the comments to journalists at his office in Dhaka on Wednesday. He is set to leave Bangladesh by December 15.
The outgoing director said: “At the ILO, we have four major priorities for Bangladesh. The first is workplace safety on the government side, as the factory and industrial side is more or less completed. Our focus will be on strengthening governance so that knowledge from the Accord and Alliance can be transferred to the authorities.
“Second, we will engage in social dialogue to promote freedom of association and collective bargaining. The aim is to prompt a culture of collaboration, reducing the level of mistrust between workers and owners. A good relationship between employees and owners is good for business.”
Reddy added such a good relationship between employers and employees hinged on regular dialogues between the two, as opposed to negotiations solely in times of crisis.
He also said the development of skills while considering market needs and skilled labour migration were necessary for growth.
While there has been significant progress in workers safety in Bangladesh, the mistrust between employers and employees remains a major hurdle, Reddy said.
As the global watchdog for labor rights, the ILO has previously expressed concerns over workers’ rights in Bangladesh.
Although there are a number of trade unions in the RMG sector, workers representation is low. Bangladesh has 5% participation in unionism, Reddy said.
He admitted that negotiations had not progressed significantly in this regard, though the intention is there and efforts to improve workers representation are under way.