A committee of the International Labor Organisation (ILO) has proposed several reforms to the trade union laws in Bangladesh to ensure workers' freedom of association.
The reform measures include further reducing the threshold of minimum workers number and simplifying the registration of process of trade unions.
The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations of ILO published its annual report on the application of standards on Tuesday, which set a series of recommendations for Bangladesh and its member countries to improve labor standards.
The Committee of Experts urged Bangladesh government to continue to take the necessary measures to review sections 179(2) and 179 (5) of the BLA without delay, in consultation with the social partners, with a view to reducing the minimum membership requirement.
According to the Section 179(5) of BLA, no registration shall be provided to more than three trade unions at any time in an establishment or group of establishments.
Currently, the minimum membership requirement for trade union registration depends on the total number of workers employed in an establishment.
As per the Bangladesh Labour Act, a trade union of workers shall not be entitled to registration unless it has a minimum membership of 30% of the total number of workers employed in the establishment in which it is formed.
Last year, the government proposed to set new threshold where if there are less than 2,000 workers in an establishment, the requirement would remain 30%, for enterprises with 2,001 to 5,000 workers it would be 27%, 5,001 to 7,500 workers 24% and 7,501 workers or more - 20%.
The committee also stressed on simplification of the re-registration process.
The committee found that the number of rejected applications for registration remains high, and that a substantial proportion of rejections come without explanation.
The committee requested the government to continue to take all necessary measures to ensure that registration is a simple, objective and transparent process, which does not restrict the right of workers to establish organizations without previous authorization.
“The use of the SOPs, reduction of time limits for registration and the online database will have a positive impact on the registration rate of trade unions,” the report said.
The committee also urged the government to continue to provide updated statistics to the ILO on the overall number of applications for registration received, and to clarify the status of the 509 applications submitted through the online system, which were not granted.