ILO and the Government of Denmark extends partnership to promote social dialogue and industrial relations in the Bangladesh RMG Industry

Press release | 04 May 2021
DHAKA-2nd May 2021 (ILO News) the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Government of Denmark signs an extension of the Promoting Social Dialogue and Harmonious Industrial Relations in the Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Industry (SDIR) Project, for continued efforts to improve industrial relations and working conditions in Bangladesh, through social dialogue.

The project is a cooperation between Sweden – Denmark and ILO, started in 2015.

The initial outcomes of the project centred around developing the capacity of the tripartite constituents to better engage in the much-needed reform process, to improve, working conditions and rights at work in the sector, including workers’ and employers’ right to organize, bargain and dialogue at the workplace.

In its capacity development efforts of the tripartite constituents, the project successfully developed the capacity of more than 147 Master trainers, from Government, Employers and Workers, who in turn provided outreach training to 392 factories covering approximately 7000 worker and management representatives. Working closely with the Department of Labour (DoL) the project provided technical support for the drafting of two Standard Operating Procedures; on Trade Union Registration and Unfair Labour Practices both of which have been incorporated into the 2018 amendment of the BLA. The project worked very closely with the trade unions NCCWE and IBC, in the formation of the Workers Resource Centre (WRC) for the capacity development of trade unions and paralegal services to workers.

In 2020, as part of the ILO Country Office Dhaka, response to the COVID-19 pandemic in partnership with BGMEA and BKMEA the learning hub was launched. In collaboration with the learning hub, 164 tripartite master trainers were trained to deliver a package of COVID-19 training on- (i) COVID-19 awareness, (ii) OSH and (iii) Managing Labour Relations to management and workers representatives of 410 factories. Until April 2021, 4796 worker-management representatives (46% female) were trained on the COVID-19 training package.

The extended support by the Government of Denmark, will allow the project to consolidate achievements thus far of the sector specific social dialogue mechanisms (workplace cooperation and grievance handling), through embedding, amongst the stakeholders, a culture of social dialogue at all levels (National, Sector and Enterprise) to improve working relations. The project will work closely with DoL to further build the institutional and people capacity for improved mechanisms of dispute resolution (through conciliation and arbitration). An increase in outreach and impact is envisaged by replicating the enhanced capacities of employers’ and workers’ organisations to dialogue and to prevent and resolve disputes.
In her address, H.E Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen, Ambassador of Denmark to Bangladesh, emphasised that, “a tripartite system can only be functional if all three parties - workers, employers, and the government - are strong and equal partners to balance their interests through the social dialogue. Hence, it is of utmost importance that we raise the level of skills necessary for dialogue in Bangladeshi industrial relations.”
“Social Dialogue and harmonious labour relations are core part of Decent Work; this is important not only for the RMG sector as the highest contributor towards the country’s economy, employment growth and GDP; but also, to all other sectors, workplaces and establishments in Bangladesh’ Tuomo Poutiainen ILO Director for Bangladesh said.
“Improved social dialogue among labour market parties in Bangladesh is essential to build harmonious industrial relations over time, as well as to implement labour rights in workplaces. Strong joint commitments are crucial in this regard. Sweden will continue to support the decent work agenda and the Global Deal Initiative in Bangladesh together with our Bangladeshi and international partners” Christine Johansson, Head of Development at Embassy of Sweden said.

About Social Dialogue and Industrial Relations (SDIR) project

The Promoting Social Dialogue and Harmonious Industrial Relations in Bangladesh Ready-Made Garment Industry (SDIR) Project works to enhance workplace rights and industrial relations in the Bangladesh ready-made garment (RMG) sector primarily by facilitating improved dialogue between employers and workers, particularly at workplace level.

For further information, please contact: Neeran Ramjuthan, Chief Technical Adviser