“Social dialogue is a problem solver and mechanism, ensuring fairness at work and positive outcome in the economy through entrepreneurial success and national development,” said Guy Ryder at the launching of a project titled “Promoting Social Dialogue and Harmonious Industrial Relations in the Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Industry” in Dhaka yesterday.
“Experiences from Denmark and Switzerland are proof of it,” he said.
The project is funded by Sweden and Denmark governments and launched by Bangladesh government to improve workplace relations in the apparel sector by enhancing dialogue between government, employers and workers.
“I have been listing very carefully the interesting issues like the role of women in the RMG sector, the question of wages in the sector, the problem of relocation of workers. These are the great issues to solve through social dialogue,” he said.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque said a lack of trust prevails between workers and owners in the country’s industrial sector. He put stress on creating awareness about workers’ rights and responsibility.
He alleged that in most of the cases the applications for trade union registration do not comply with all the conditions while the employers fear unionism in factories.
Mujibul Haque said there are about 7,775 trade unions in Bangladesh and 90% of them did not submit returns to the government’s labour department.
Morten Jespersen, Under Secretary for the Centre for Global Development and Cooperation at Danish Embassy in Dhaka, said for developing a partnership between workers and owners is needed to create better working atmosphere.
Swedish Ambassador in Bangladesh Johan Frisell said functioning dialogue can resolve the problems arising in the workplace and help to avert incidents.
The envoy said: “We worked with Bangladesh government in eliminating child labour and became successful.”
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Md Siddiqur Rahman said Bangladesh has already achieved significant progress with regards to workplace safety and is becoming a role model for the world.
“Similarly, we are committed to setting an example by creating harmonious industrial relations in the Bangladesh apparel sector. In this regard, we welcome the project and will work together for effective social dialogue in the sector.”
President of Bangladesh Employers’ Federation Salahuddin Kasem Khan said the creation of effective arbitration and conciliation systems will be a major step toward the development of a more mature industrial relations environment for Bangladesh that will benefit employers and workers alike.
IndustriAll Bangladesh Council Secretary General Kutubuddin Ahmed said the Worker Resource Centres established by the initiative will be a valuable addition to the industrial relations landscape and help trade unions operate more effectively.
“This project will also eventually strengthen social dialogue for the betterment of workers as well as sustainable industrialisation,” he added.