Representatives from the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) have said that Bangladesh is lagging behind in terms of the labour standards required for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The think tank made the disclosure at a public discussion titled “Emerging Labour Standard Demands in view of Bangladesh’s LDC Graduation and SDG Implementation,” organized by CPD at a hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Presenting the keynote paper at the event, CPD Research Director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem said: “Despite considerable progress, Bangladesh is still lagging behind in terms of ensuring compliance with labour regulation and operational measures, and partly in inspection and remediation. The country needs to conduct investigation and make time-bound commitments to address various gaps with 27 different conventions.”
He also said the existing SDG targets and indicators set by the government were insufficient to cover all related issues and concerns, and labour standard-specific commitments were needed.
Mentioning that Bangladesh needs to explore how lead and co-lead organizations have devised plans of action for implementation of SDG strategies, Dr Khondaker said there was a $67.85 billion shortage in resources for implementing the SDGs by 2030.
The CPD research director further urged that labour standards be enforced in all sectors and not just major ones.
CPD Distinguished Fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya said: “This is the era of rising protectionism. It is the era of unilateral trade measures. It is the era where multilateral rules are being flouted. It is the era when the WTO (World Trade Organization) is paralyzed. So, we will see what happens. On the one hand, the bilateral and at the same time some regional standards will become more important than multilateral issues. So, the rule-based multilateral standard issues may become much weaker in the future, at least in the near future.”
“SDG implementing agencies and stakeholders in Bangladesh are hardly aware of emerging labour standard issues. Raising awareness and effective coordination is a must to address this, if we are to achieve the global agenda by 2030,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies Executive Director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed said: “Our policy should be inclusive and we need to include everybody in policy making. Whatever changes we are making to the labour law now is not inclusive, unless we make it for all.”
Addressing the discussion as the chief guest, State Minister for Labour and Employment Md Mujibul Haque Chunnu said the decision had been taken to incorporate the labour provisions in the EPZs by the inspector general with inspectors under the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006, with the minimum threshold of 20% worker support to form a trade union.
BGMEA President Md Siddiqur Rahman said: “Since the Rana Plaza disaster, we have improved labour standards and safety in the RMG sector. In their inspection reports, Accord and Alliance have declared that 85% and 90% of their factories are compliant, respectively. We are expecting the figures to reach 100% by the end of this year.”
“Accord and Alliance want to continue their monitoring after completion of their period, while our stance is that we are matured enough to do our business and monitoring under the national inspection department. So, we do not need their monitoring anymore,” he added.
The discussion was also addressed by Deputy Director of ILO Country Office in Dhaka Gagan Rajbhandari, and Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra General Secretary Dr Wajedul Islam Khan, among others. CPD Distinguished Fellow Mustafizur Rahman chaired the discussion.