The government has amended Labour Rules 2015, empowering trade unions in factories and making more provisions to prevent sexual harassment in workplaces.
The government issued a gazette the of amended labour rules on September 1, bringing changes in 99 rules and repealing two others.
According to the amended rules, a participation committee is not required in any establishment if there is a trade union.
It also stipulates that if any participation committee is formed in the absence of a trade union, activities of the committee would be discontinued as soon as a trade union is formed.
It was a longstanding demand from local labour rights groups and the International Labour Organisation that the participation committee could not be the alternative to trade union in a factory.
The government promised to its international stakeholders, including the ILO and the European Union, to amend the labour rules in line with the ILO conventions by September 2022.
In the amendments, the government has revoked the provision related to submitting certificates regarding services of workers with the application for the registration of trade unions.
A provision relating to conducts towards women has been included in the rules that prohibits indecent and abusive behaviour towards women employees in any establishment.
The amendment has made the formation of a five-member sexual harassment prevention committee led by a woman mandatory in each workplace.
It has also included a new provision allowing leave for women workers in case of miscarriages.
According to the provision, in case of miscarriage, a woman worker will be entitled for a four-week leave with wages for her sickness.
A delegation of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament visited Bangladesh in July to review the implementation of ‘suggested actions’ on labour rights provided by the European Union to sustain the existing trade benefits in the economic bloc under the scheme of everything but arms.
In the last week of November 2019, the EU provided a list of ‘suggested actions on labour rights’ to the Bangladesh government and requested it to develop and submit to it a time-bound roadmap to address the issues.
The EU provided issues were amendments to Bangladesh Labour Act, labour rules and EPZ labour law in line with International Labour Organisation conventions, establishing an action plan to eliminate child labour by 2025, combating violence against workers, increasing success rate of trade union registration application, eliminating backlog of cases at labour courts, filling the vacant posts of labour inspectors, ensuring proper work of remediation coordination cell and ratifying ILO conventions 29 and 138.
Responding to the call of the EU, the government of Bangladesh had submitted a time-bound action plan to the EU in January 2020, setting the timeframe between six months and six years to implement the suggested actions.