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Bangladesh: ILO delegation calls for trade unions in EPZsWednesday, October 21, 2015 > 10:19:53
(The Daily Star)
A high-powered delegation of the International Labour Organisation yesterday advised the government to introduce trade unionism in factories inside export processing zones (EPZs) to protect worker rights.
The recommendation came in a meeting with Mikail Shipar, secretary to the ministry of labour and employment, at the latter's secretariat in Dhaka.
The delegation's recommendation is also in line with a condition of the US government. Launching trade unions in EPZs was one of the major conditions in the 16-point Bangladesh Action Plan to win back trade benefits to the American market.
Trade unions are not allowed in EPZs at present, as the existing workers' welfare associations (WWAs) address disputes between workers and management.
The ILO delegation also suggested raising some provisions of the amended labour law to international standards along with improving the conditions of the labour courts, as many cases are pending in those courts for years, according to Shipar.
Some 428 operational units in the EPZs invested $402.58 million last fiscal year, while their investments amounted to $328.53 million in fiscal 2012-13, according to Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza).
Bepza runs eight EPZs and facilitates investments by local and foreign firms to produce goods for exports.
The ILO team also held meetings with trade union leaders and leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association during their three-day visit to Bangladesh.