Bangladesh government convenes workers’ and employers’ organizations to discuss application of ratified Conventions and implementation of ILO’s expert recommendations

An overview of meeting participants © ILO
On 21st August 2023, the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), with technical facilitation of the ILO's Trade for Decent Work project, funded by European Union, organised the first tripartite consultation with employers’ and workers’ organisations to discuss the country’s application of ILO Conventions and the reports the country is required to submit this year for the ratified conventions. The ILO constituents also discussed ways to address the recommendations of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR).

The consultation was presided over by Ms. Fahmida Akhter, ndc, Additional Secretary (Export and IO Wing), Ministry of Labour and Employment. The meeting brought together officials from various departments in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), the Ministry of Shipping, and industrial police. Employers were represented by the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF), while workers were represented by the National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education (NCCWE).

Workers' and employers' organizations have an active role in the reporting process of the country’s application of international labour standards. The Government of Bangladesh ratified the Tripartite Consultation Convention, 1976 (No. 144), and therefore is required to effectively engage workers' and employers' organizations in discussing on international labour standards, including reports on ratified Conventions, and consult with them on unratified Conventions and Recommendations.

This year, Bangladesh is required to submit reports on the application of the following seven ILO Conventions - Nos. 87 (Freedom of Association), 98 (Collective Bargaining), 81(Labour Inspection), 27 (Marking of Weight), 32 (Protection against accidents of dockers) and 185 (Seafarers’ identity document) and 144 (Tripartite Consultation).

The Government of Bangladesh presented the reports for discussion and sought feedback from workers’ and employers’ organizations. Some significant strategic steps were agreed including holding regular consultations between the Department of Labour (DoL) and trade unions in order to discuss obstacles encountered and measures to redress them in order to improve the process of trade unions registration in the country.

They also discussed how to advance engagement of workers’ organisations in factory inspections. As a result, the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE) agreed that in addition to interviewing individual workers, it would collaborate with workers’ organizations, or worker participation committees, if there was no trade union.

This consultation also inspired the Ministry of Shipping to organize additional tripartite consultation on ILO Conventions Nos 27 (Marking of Weight), 32 (Protection against accidents of dockers) and 185 (Seafarers’ identity document) with stakeholders in the maritime sector before submitting reports to the MoLE. Participants included representatives from the Ministry of Shipping, including the Department of Shipping, Mongla Port Authority, Chattogram Port Authority, Pigeon Port Authority, Bangladesh Shipping Agent Association, Ocean Going Ship Owners Association (BOGSOA), Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers’ Association (BMMOA), Bangladesh Seafarers’ Association (BSU), and Bangladesh Nou-jan Sramik Federation. Subsequently, the Government of Bangladesh submitted all seven reports as per requirement.

On unratified Conventions, Ms. Elena Gerasimova, Labour Law and Labour Standards Specialist from the ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for South Asia, shared the International Labour Standards promotional pyramid which summarises decisions of the ILO Governing Body. Inspired by initiatives from other countries, participants jointly agreed to develop a ratification workplan and requested ILO to organize a follow up workshop to inform the tripartite constituents in greater detail about the unratified Conventions and review the draft workplan before submission to the Tripartite Consultative Council for its consideration.