RMG Times
সোমবার, মে ১, ২০২৩
  • শেয়ার করুন

As the world celebrates International Labour Day on May 1st, Bangladesh’s garment industry reflects on the progress made in recent years while acknowledging the need for further improvements.

The history of May Day dates back to 1886 when workers in Chicago protested for an eight-hour workday. In Bangladesh, the day is celebrated as a tribute to workers and their economic contributions.

The garment industry is a crucial part of Bangladesh’s economy, accounting for over 80% of the country’s export earnings. However, it is also a sector plagued by low wages, poor working conditions, and labor rights violations.

The industry has significantly improved working conditions and worker rights in recent years. For example, the Bangladesh Accord, an agreement between brands and trade unions, was signed in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, which claimed the lives of over 1,100 garment workers. The accord set factory safety standards and mandated regular inspections to ensure compliance.

Despite these improvements, challenges remain. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the industry, leading to factory closures and job losses. Moreover, workers face low wages and limited social protections, such as healthcare and pensions.

One of the biggest challenges facing workers in Bangladesh’s garment industry is the condition of the trade union movement. Trade unions represent workers and advocate for their rights in the workplace. However, in Bangladesh, trade unions face numerous barriers, including restrictions on their formation and activities, intimidation, and violence.

The lack of freedom of association and collective bargaining in Bangladesh’s garment industry has led to workers being unable to negotiate for better wages and working conditions. The government has taken steps to improve the situation, including passing a new labor law in 2018 allowing workers to form trade unions without employer permission. However, implementation of the law has been slow, and many workers need to be made aware of their rights.

The sectoral challenges can be overcome through social dialogue, which brings workers, employers, and government representatives together workers, employers, and government representatives to discuss and negotiate workplace-related issues. Social dialogue in the RMG sector has been shown to increase communication and understanding between employees and management, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity, enhanced working conditions, and fewer labor disputes. In addition to fostering cooperation among stakeholders, social dialogue ensures that the sector operates sustainably, which is good for employees, business owners, and the economy as a whole. To solve the problems faced by those employed in the garment industry, social dialogue is essential. The term “social dialogue” is used to describe the interaction between managers, workers, and governments in order to find solutions to problems in the workplace. Social dialogue has been instrumental in resolving issues of labor rights abuse and bettering working conditions in Bangladesh.

As the industry continues to recover from the pandemic, there is a need for renewed social dialogue to address the challenges facing workers, including the condition of the trade union movement. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of social protections for workers, such as sick leave and healthcare. Moreover, the industry must continue to address longstanding issues such as low wages and gender-based discrimination. Finally, on this International Labor Day, it’s worthwhile to consider how far the Bangladeshi garment industry has come and how far it still needs to go. Even though the industry has come a long way in protecting and improving the rights of its workers, there is still much work to be done. The industry must continue to contribute to the country’s economic growth while protecting the rights of its workers, and the tools at their disposal to do so are social dialogue,
freedom of association, and collective bargaining.

SM Shoeb
Compliance, CSR, Auditing, Sustainability,
Training & Development, Program & Project Management Professional.