The government has not decided yet whether Bangladesh would allow trade union at the Export Processing Zones in the country.
“The existing laws related to BEPZA will expire at the end of this year and the government is yet to decide whether the EPZs would be brought under the mainstream labour laws,” said Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar, after a follow-up meeting on readymade garments sector at the foreign ministry on Sunday.
Allowing trade union in the EPZs is one of the important demands of the AFL-CIO, which put forward a motion to suspend GSP facilities for Bangladesh and eventually Washington announced the suspension on Friday.
The secretary said Bangladesh is going to discuss labour issues with European Union and US, two of its biggest export destinations, and seek their advice how they could cooperate with the country. “We will discuss about the development of tripartite agreement with US and EU in Geneva on July 7 and 8.”
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni will discuss the labour issues with State Department Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert D Hormats, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and ILO director general in Geneva. “We have to show them some visible action in the meeting,” Shipar said. He said there is development in appointing inspectors to monitor factory standards.
The secretary said European and US buyers could support 1,300 factories to ensure fire safety and the fire security of the rest 2,200 factories would be executed by ILO and the government.
Fazlul Huq, chairman of Bangladesh Employers’ Association, said: “We cannot afford to waste any time... We have to show them some visible results.”