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Dhaka Tribune

Cabinet approves draft law to soften trade union regulations

In the case of natural death, the family of the worker concerned will get Tk2 lakh as compensation, up from Tk1 lakh in the previous law

Update : 03 Sep 2018, 10:52 PM

Factory workers will be able to form a trade union with the support of only one in five of their colleagues and can go on strike with a simple majority in favour under new legislation approved by the Cabinet yesterday. 

Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam said that under the draft Bangladesh Labour Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the percentage of workers' participation required for forming trade unions in factories will be reduced to 20% from the existing 30%, reports UNB.

Other features of the act approved in principle at the weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday include new maternity and compensation facilities for workers. 

"The amended law will be a labour-friendly one," the Cabinet Secretary said. "Under the proposed law, no child will be allowed to work in factories. If anybody employs child workers, then he or she will have to pay a fine of Tk5,000.”

In the draft bill, punishments for violating laws have been halved, with both owners and workers now facing a one-year jail term and a fine of Tk10,000 for misconduct, which was two years in the previous law.

According to section 47 of the draft, any female worker who gives birth to a baby will be allowed an eight-week period of leave within three days of informing the authorities. 

If the factory authorities do not allow her to go on leave, they will be fined Tk 25,000.

Any worker who reports for duty during a festival will be given one day of leave and wages for two days after the festival.

In the case of natural death, the family of the worker concerned will get Tk2 lakh as compensation, up from Tk1 lakh in the previous law. In the case of injury, they will get Tk2.50 lakh, double the current rate of Tk1.25 lakh.

As per the draft law, the government will have to give registration to a trade union within 55 days from receiving the application - down from 60 days in the previous law.

“The support of 51% workers is needed against the present two-thirds of total workers to call a strike,” Shafiul Alam said. "Illegal enforcement of strike will also be considered as misconduct."

If anyone is found to be a member of a number of trade unions at the same time, he or she will be sentenced to one month's imprisonment which was six months in the previous law.

The draft bill has been prepared and updated following the observation of the International Labour Organization (ILO). 

“According to the ILO convention, the draft law has a scope to form a tripartite advisory council consisting of the government, owners and workers,” Shafiul Alam said.

Under the draft law, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment has been upgraded to the level of Directorate. 

Shafiul Alam said the post of the chief inspector of the department is now inspector general, while deputy director general is additional inspector general, and the post of labour director has been upgraded to the rank of director general.

Once the proposed bill is passed in Parliament, the Labour Court will have to deliver judgment in a case within 90 days from the date of filing it.

If it is not possible to announce the verdict in the stipulated time, the court must deliver its judgment in the next 90 days.

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