Getting Migration Governance Right

Photo of Sheikh HasinaThe Embassy of Bangladesh in Paris is proud to share with you an article titled " Getting Migration Governance Right", authored by H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Hon'ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh. In her article, Hon'ble Prime Minister has called upon the international community to give a closer look at the issue of migration, one of the most serious challenges facing the world today. The article has been published in the Project Syndicate, a prestigious forum that provides original, high-quality commentaries to a global audience by featuring exclusive contributions by prominent political leaders, policymakers, scholars, business leaders, and civic activists from around the world.Link: Getting Migration Governance Right

Update by Bangladesh

Progress in implementation on Outcome of the Review Meeting of the Sustainability Compact

as on January 2016

 

provision /elements /outcome

progress in implementation

In keeping with the commitments in the Compact, adoption of the rules and regulations for effective implementation of the Bangladesh Labour Act in full consultation with the Tripartite Consultative Council (TCC) and taking into account ILO recommendations on draft text without further delay and as a matter of the highest priority. The rules will, inter alia, address unfair labour practices, including remedies. The rules will furthermore provide for the establishment of an effective mechanism for mediation that provides for real-time resolution of labour disputes.

(Compact reference 1a, b)

In keeping with the commitments in the Compact, in full consultation with the Tripartite Consultative Council (TCC) and taking into account the ILO recommendations, the implementing Rules to the Bangladesh Labour Act (BLA) was drafted and adopted. The Rules was published in the official Gazette on 16 September 2015; and circulated widely among all stakeholders to implement respective relevant provisions. The concerned Directorate /Department, especially Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) and Department of Labour (DoL), are since engaged in implementing the Rules. Steps have also been taken to translate the Rules to English language.

The Rules provides for the establishment of an effective mechanism for mediation that provides for real-time resolution.

Consultation on further amendments to the law by the Government of Bangladesh, with all stakeholders including with the ILO, taking into consideration the experience in implementation of the Bangladesh Labour Act, and the conclusions and recommendations of the ILO supervisory monitoring bodies, in particular on ILO Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise) and Convention No. 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining). (Compact 1c)

 

The Bangladesh Labour Act (amended) was passed in the Parliament on 15 July 2013 inter alia incorporating core principles of the ILO Conventions and the conclusions and recommendations of the ILO supervisory monitoring bodies. The provisions of fundamental rights to freedom of association and the rights to collective bargaining have been strengthened in the Act.

To date, 341 Labour Unions have been registered in the RMG sector following amendment of the Law. Labour Unions and their members are also protected by various provisions of the Labour Act and other existing laws. Any aggrieved worker can apply to the Department of Labour or, even to the Labour Court for remedy, pursuant to the provisions of the Labour Act.

 

These changes draw from the Proclamation of Independence which guarantee protection of human dignity and establishing social justice. The State principles in the Constitution includes inter alia the State’s obligation to ensure peasants and labours to be free from all sort of exploitation. The Constitutional scheme supported by century-old labour justice system through labour commands redressal procedure supported vibrant and dynamic labour rights activities.  

Adoption of necessary legislative changes to the legal framework applicable in the EPZs to protect freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, and to ensure that such rights are commensurate with those provided in the national Labour Law. This will be in full consultation with all stakeholders and taking into account observations by the ILO supervisory bodies. (Compact 1d)

 

No blacklisting in the Export Processing Zones (EPZ) since early 2013 has been reported. Since 1 January 2014, the workers are enjoying the Right to Strike in the EPZs. Workers Welfare Associations (WWAs) in the EPZs enjoy rights to collective bargaining and will continue to do so. Intensive inspections are carried out pursuant to the provisions of the existing law. 

To date, 220 Workers Welfare Associations (WWAs) have been registered with the rights to collective bargaining. Furthermore, authority of the Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA) in the EPZ Workers Welfare Association and Industrial Relations Act-2010 (EWWAIR Act, 2010) have been reduced by delegating some of the responsibility to the heads of each EPZs.

BEPZA has appointed three Conciliators and three Arbitrators for resolution of disputes and legal supports. Eight labour courts (for eight EPZs and one Appellate Tribunal) are entrusted to settle labour-related disputes in EPZs. An aggrieved worker has full freedom to move to EPZ Labor Tribunals and EPZ Labor Appellate Tribunal. 114 labour cases have been filed in those Courts, out of which 42 cases have been settled by the Courts.

Draft of a comprehensive “Bangladesh EPZ Labour Act, 2014”, has been finalized, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders/actors. It has been approved in principle by Bangladesh Cabinet. More recently, the draft Act has been vetted.

Continuation and expansion of education and training programmes on labour rights for law enforcement and other relevant personnel with a view to effectively address unfair labour practices. (Compact 1 e, f)

 

Under a project "Promoting Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in Bangladesh (FPRW)", funded by USDoL and implemented by ILO, training programmes have been conducted for the workers, trade union leaders and employers for capacity building of trade union representatives’ and employers’ organizations and promoting effective labour-management relations. Till June 2015, 1,990 workers’ representatives (1,086 male and 904 female), 100 managers (84 male and 16 female) and 264 officials from MoLE, IRI and BEPZA (including 33 female officials) have received training on issues relevant to their work i.e. workers’ roles, rights and responsibilities, negotiation techniques (IBN approach), labour law, etc. Training was provided on workers’ rights and responsibilities, and role and function of trade unions through outreach programme (using materials e.g. leaflet, comic book, TV spot, TV drama, and talk show, etc).  

Training programmes are also being arranged under the Project “Promoting fundamental rights and labour relations in Bangladesh (FRLR)”, funded by the Royal Norwegian Government and implemented by ILO. So far, 541 workers and their representatives have been trained (including 295 female) on workers’ rights and responsibilities, role and function of trade unions etc.

Government of Bangladesh (GoB) is working to raise awareness of the employers and workers regarding Trade Union rights and responsibilities by organizing training and education programme through four Industrial Relations Institutes (IRI) under the Department of Labour.

The ‘Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector’ project, launched on 22 October 2013, has been providing education and training on occupational safety and health under the component “Building Capacity of OSH Systems”. This component will focus on fire safety and OSH in the RMG sector in three areas:

(a) Support RMG OSH Committees to function effectively;

(b) Train Employer and Worker organizations on their responsibilities and

(c) An ongoing multi-media information, education and outreach (IEO) campaign.

Under the “Establishment of 9 divisional offices Regional Offices and Modernization and Strengthening of the DIFE” Project, being implemented by DIFE (under ADP), it is planned to train all newly recruited Inspectors and office staff on Bangladesh Labour law, 2006. The management, Trade Union and Workers representatives of Factories & Establishments will also be trained under the Project. There is a plan to train 2,400 persons in total under this Project.

The 30 Labour Welfare Centres (LWC) across different parts of Bangladesh, provides medical consultation, free medicine, training on Labour Law (particularly on Occupational Health and safety) to workers. They also provide recreational facilities to the workers.

As of October 2015, all inspectors, including 210 newly recruited ones, have received induction training.

A comprehensive training plan has been developed, in collaboration with the International Training Centre/ILO (Turin). Under that, all DIFE Inspectors are being trained.

46 different courses were attended by 938 participants (most being Inspectors) between January 2014 and December 2015, and 49 participants were trained in 17 different countries.

FSCD has provided training for 76,400 people, conducted 166 drills and 126 surveys in 2015 under 1,920 courses.

In addition, BGMEA maintains a fire safety Cell to provide basic fire safety training to workers and staff. Till now, 103,068 workers and staff have been trained by the BGMEA Cell. Besides, BGMEA implemented a crash program imparting fire training to 20,188 mid-level managers. Following adoption of the Sustainability Compact, BGMEA strengthened the capacity of its fire safety cell by hiring 35 trainers (mostly ex-defence personnel) who are regularly providing training at factory level, visiting factories to verify fire safety system and conducting fire drills.

 

 

The Government of Bangladesh will prioritise the investigation and prosecution of unfair labour practices, including anti-union discrimination and reprisals, effectively, expediently, and transparently. (Compact 1f)

 

Section 186 and 195 of the Labour Act prohibits all sorts of anti-union discrimination & unfair labour practices. Director of Labour, empowered by section 317(4)(b) &rule 366 (Bangladesh labor Rules, 2015) address the matter. Section 291 and 307 provides penalty for violations of the provisions of Section 186 and 195. However, unfair Labour practices (ULP), if reported or noted/recognised, are resolved within 30 (thirty) days of receipt of application in accordance to the Labour Rules, 2015.

Adoption of the necessary implementing regulations on the labour law will enable the finalisation of the assessment and advisory tools and their implementation in factories, in line with the Better Work Bangladesh (BWB) programme requirements. (Compact 1f)

Better Work Programme (BWP) was launched, together with ILO (Dhaka, 22 October 2013) as a component of ‘Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-Made Garment Sector’ Project. Core services being delivered under the program are advisory visits, assessments and training on supervisory skills development and life skills. To date, 97 RMG factories and 18 Buyers have joined BWP.

Ensure the recruitment/hiring of the additional 189 inspectors to be in service by the end of 2014. (Compact 1g)

Following the upgradation of DIFE to a Department, there are personnel position of 993, out of which 575 are inspectors. Key challenges have been to recruit personnel in newly created posts. Since April 2013, 235 new inspectors have been recruited in DIFE. Clearly, more inspectors have been recruited compared to the commitment in the first  review meeting.

The Government of Bangladesh will continue to recruit/hire labour inspectors as a matter of urgency and to provide adequate annual budget allocation and training to effectively enforce the law in a fully transparent and accountable manner. (Compact 1g)

Ministry of Labour & Employment has requested Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC) to recruit 169 additional Inspectors entrusted effectively enforce the law in a fully transparent and accountable manner.

With regard to allocation of budgetary resources, the allocation was for BDT 23,30,10,000 (US$ 2.91 million) in Financial Year 2014-15  which was 370% higher than the previous year. The allocation is for BDT 32,50,00,000.00 (US$ 4.1 million) in the current Fiscal Year – showing 72% increase compared to previous year.

Continuation of regular visits and assessment of all active ready-made garment factories by the Government of Bangladesh in order to enforce national labour laws, including on working conditions in factories, freedom of association and collective bargaining. (Compact 1g)

 

Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET), the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (ACCORD) and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety reached an agreement on harmonised standards for assessments of both fire and building safety (7 November 2013, at an ILO-facilitated Workshop). These Standards have been formally endorsed by the Government through the National Tripartite Committee (NTC). In addition, a review mechanism headed by Inspector General (IG), DIFE is there address urgent safety issues in RMG factories. This arrangement has been agreed upon by all parties.

To date, 3734 export-oriented RMG factories have been primarily assessed compared to the targeted factories (3,508): 1549 by ILO led process under National Initiative; 1,356 by ACCORD and 829 RMG factories by Alliance have been assessed. From these, 37 factories under three initiatives have been completely closed and 42 have been partially closed subject to the approval of the Review Panel. 13 Engineering Consultation Firm have been selected to conduct Detailed Engineering Assessment (DEA) under the National Initiatives. DEA Guideline and Outline has been drafted. Pilot scheme by ILO has been developed to help 10 factories to conduct Corrective Action Plans (CAPs). Already 132 CAPs have been developing by the factories, which is under approval.

Ministry of Labour & Employment (MoLE) has been working to constitute a Remediation Coordination Cell, in collaboration with ILO and other stakeholders, to address the issues entirely.

On the other hand, the Alliance and Accord have carried out the DEA and are implementing the Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) in accordance with respective plans.

Consideration of development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), with support from the ILO, to guide labour inspectors in effective discharge of their roles and responsibilities. (Compact 1g)

There are clear procedures for independent and credible inspections. Ministry of Labour & Employment, in association with ILO, has been working on the issues.

 

Continue upgrading the publicly accessible database of ready-made garment and knitwear factories by including detailed information on all factories in the sector, results of labour inspections regarding anti-union discrimination and unfair labour practices, structural integrity, fire, and electrical inspections (including fines, sanctions and remedial action), and all follow-up inspections. (Compact 1h & 2c)

 

Protection of Labour Unions and their members are secured by various provisions of the amended BLA. However, the Government, with support from ILO, has developed a publicly accessible database of all active export-oriented RMG factories as of 30 March 2014 [accessible at DIFE website (http://database.dife.gov.bd/).

The database includes all related information of all export-oriented RMG factories, including names and addresses, number of workers, and assessment reports of the factories carried out under National Initiatives, and by Accord and Alliance inspection teams. The website is being updated on a regular basis.  As of December 2015, a total of 2558 assessment reports (715 factories for Accord; 568 factories for Alliance and 1275 factories under National Initiatives) were made publicly available through the DIFE website. 

Directorate of Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD) has established a hotline. DIFE also launched a Labour Help Line (0800 44 55 000) on 15 March 2015 which aims to facilitate workers to register their complaints and grievances. The helpline is running in Ashulia (a RMG factory hub) on a pilot basis and operated by a private sector firm (outsourced by DIFE).

Continuation of skills training and rehabilitation of the injured workers of the Rana Plaza factory collapse by the Government of Bangladesh with the support of ILO. (Compact 1i)

 

Coordination Unit: With support of EU-funded TVET Reform Project, a Coordination Unit on Rehabilitation of Victims of Rana Plaza was established, staffed and made operational in August 2013. Over 1,700 persons visited the Unit to inquire inter alia about medical support, job opportunities, small business and financial support and missing persons. They were provided information and support or, as appropriate, referred to relevant organizations and institutions. The Coordination Cell communicated with more than 4,231 victims (2,605 female, 1,626 male) of Rana Plaza, including the relatives of deceased/missing workers, survivors, rescue workers and other related people to explore their specific needs and linking them to the claim administration office.

A helpline was also established and made operational since 25 November 2013.

Skills training through TVET Reform and the RMG projects: Skills training programme have been delivered to a batch of 50 injured workers who have received skills training and support for re-employment and self-employment. 42 persons (male 17, female 25) have already secured alternative employment after completing the skills training. A programme of support has also started for an additional 250 survivors for comprehensive support including counselling, guidance, skills training and business support. So far 203 survivors (female 145, male 58) have received re-employment and skills training support. Among them 133 (85 female, male 48 participants) have been re-employed. The Project team communicated with more than 25 local employers to create re-employment opportunities. The models developed by TVET Reform project have been utilized.

Structural integrity of buildings and occupational safety and health

Reaffirmed commitment to the implementation of the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Structural Integrity, Fire Safety in accordance with milestones and timelines. (Compact 2a)

Accord, Alliance and National Initiatives have completed primary inspection for 3660 RMG factories. DEA and remediation of the factories are going on.

 

 Inclusion of the election procedure for the establishment of the Safety Committees at factory level in the implementing rules and regulations of the Bangladesh Labour Act. (Compact 1b, 2a)

Pursuant to the provisions of the BLA and its related Rules, Ministry of Labour & Employment has instructed the respective associations to give directives to their member factories for establishment of the Safety Committee at factory level. Therefore, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturing and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturing and Exporters Association (BKMEA) called upon its member factories to constitute the workers participation committee through election and form safety committee in accordance with the rules. BGMEA is monitoring the formation of the committees and providing legal support services where necessary. An initiative has also been taken to provide training on legal requirements for formation of the participation and safety committees. 

Continuation of the efforts taken by the Government of Bangladesh, with support of ILO and other development partners, for comprehensive strengthening of other relevant regulatory authorities/bodies. (Compact 2a)

218 new posts of warehouse inspectors in the Directorate of Fire Service & Civil Defense (FSCD), in addition to the existing strength of 50, have been created and the aforesaid inspectors have been recruited accordingly.

The new posts for inspectors have been created in the RAJUK, in addition to the existing posts for inspectors, to deal with the structural integrity within its respective area. In the meantime RAJUK recruited 54 inspectors and related engineers.

 Initiatives have been taken to increase manpower :

The recruitment of 32 inspectors in addition to the exiting 8 inspectors in Chittagong Development Authority(CDA) are underway. 

Department of Labour: Ministry of Labour and Employment has been working to Increase of total strength from 712 to 1,100 but is at primary level.

The ILO and other development partners are engaged in strengthening of the above mentioned regulatory authorities/bodies in various ways.

Steps towards harmonisation of and addressing inconsistencies and gaps in laws, rules, etc. relating to building approvals, fire safety clearances and factory licences as a follow up of the ongoing inspections by Accord, Alliance and BUET and other government-hired/recruited inspectors. (Compact 2b and 3a)

Changes of laws and rules are continuous process complying with the international standards. Various Committees are at work to address the inconsistencies and gaps in laws, rules, etc. as a follow- up to the ongoing inspections by Accord, Alliance and national Initiative.

Completion of assessments of the structural building safety and fire safety of all active export-oriented ready-made garment and knitwear factories as a matter of urgency. (Compact 2b)

With assistance of ILO and under the supervision on National Tripartite Committee (NTC), a plan for assessment of building, fire and electrical safety of all active export-oriented RMG/Knitwear factories has been developed. Under three initiatives (Accord, Alliance and the National Initiative), to date 3734 factories have been primarily assessed. DEA and remediation works are going on. 

Ensuring factory compliance with required corrective action plans, or sanction accordingly, including closing unsafe facilities. (Compact 2b)

3734 export-oriented RMG factories have been primarily assessed compared to the targeted factories (3,508) by Accord, Alliance and National Initiative. 37 factories have been completely closed and 42 have been partially closed as suggested by the Review Panel. The factories are implementing the Corrective Action Plan (CAPs), as required.

Exploring options for providing support to the factories for remediation, including for increased access to credit for corrective action plans and required remediation in ready-made garment sector. (Compact 2b)

The collective efforts of National Action Plan (NAP), Accord, Alliance and BGMEA have made it possible to successfully complete inspection of 3,660 active factories which are now carrying out remediation works in accordance with Corrective Action Plan (CAP).

It is necessary for the RMG factories under CAPs to have an easy access to low cost financing. However , RMG remediation financing are shown  below:  

RMG Remediation Financing, 08 December 2015

JICA, Japan :    (I billion taka) 12.5 million US dollar (working with Bangladesh bank, Public Works Department/GoB, BGMEA and BKMEA)

IFC  :  50 million US dollar, working with 5 Bangladeshi commercial bank

Accord  :  250 thousand US dollar - contributing the IFC programme

US AID   :  22 million US dollar, working with 2 Bangladeshi commercial bank

Alliance:  1.5 million US dollar supporting US AID programme

EU package (AFD, France, Asia-Invest, EU, GIZ and KfW):   63   million euro, modalities being negotiated

ADB:    30 million US dollar, modalities being negotiated

Continuing the current initiatives by the Government of Bangladesh to increase its capacity, both in terms of its human resources and financial budgetary resources, including through effective training to the newly recruited inspectors, to inspect factories, as part of progressively taking ownership from the current privately-run initiatives. (Compact 1g, 2b)

The GoB has initiated a number of activities in different streams with the aim to revamp the labour inspection system and to strengthen the capacity of the Labour Inspection Department, including improving structure and processes of the labour inspectorate, improving legislative and policy frameworks, and training and equipping current and new inspectors.

On 15 January 2014, Office of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Establishments has been upgraded to the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE) with  993 manpower from which  575 are inspectors positions, as compared to 183 authorised posts before the Compact. After the upgradition, 235 inspectors have been recruited and various trainings (basic, foundation, TOT) have been them given at home and abroad to inspect factories, as part of progressively taking ownership from the current privately-run initiatives.

[for the budget for DIFE, as sated before….]

Development of remediation standards for labour, fire, and building safety inspections by the Government of Bangladesh with support from the ILO and development partners. (Compact 2b)

Institutional collaboration between DIFE, FSCD, BUET has been established ensuring a harmonised approach to factory inspections, remediation and oversight. The National Tripartite Committee (NTC) endorsed the draft Protocol for remediation under the National Initiative (of 23 December 2014) inter alia to avoid duplication of work as well.

Responsible Business Conduct (Compact 3)

Continue to promote the uptake of socially responsible supply chain initiatives and facilitate transparency and coordination between them.

Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety have agreed with national authorities on a common approach, including standards, for inspections and have used them for all the inspections they have carried out.

Encourage Multinational enterprises (MNEs), brands, retailers to deepen discussions on Responsible Business Conduct in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines and principles, including the OECD Guidelines on MNEs and the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning MNEs.

Responsible Business Conduct initiatives, launched in response to Rana Plaza tragedy, are operational. Over 250 fashion and retail brands from over 20 countries are members of either the Accord or, the Alliance. Over 1,900 the export-oriented factories (over 50% of factories targeted for inspection) have been inspected by the Accord and the Alliance.

Multinational enterprises (MNEs), Brands and Retailers - through brands forum and other informal platforms - have started taking an active role in supporting implementation of the National Tripartite Action Plan. They are particularly interested in capacity development of the three regulatory authorities i.e. DIFE, FSCD and (Dhaka) Capital Development Authority (RAJUK) to enable these Agencies to continue the outcome accomplished by the National Initiative, Accord and Alliance as these arrangements /organisations end their work by around 2018.

Encourage BGMEA to invite the ILO to participate in their on-going worker management relations and labour law training.

In collaboration with ILO, BGMEA is implementing a training program on Occupational Safety & Health (OSH). Under this Program, 114 senior Master Trainers have already been trained. The Master Trainers are now engaged in training 8,000 mid-level managers/supervisors by February 2016. From March/April 2016, the managers/supervisors will train an estimated eight hundred thousand workers.

Encourage the continuation of the work of the global retailers and brands to adopt a unified code of conduct for factory audit in Bangladesh.

As yet, there is no movement on development of a unified code of conduct for factory audit in Bangladesh. A unified code can reduce time, energy and also minimize costs of production. The divergent codes add more cost, erode competitiveness and deplete profit margin irrespective of supplier and buyers.

However, the Accord and the Alliance have agreed with national authorities on a common approach, including standards, for inspections. But, the Accord is beyond the agreement. It suggests to carry out the inspection of the factories inspected by Alliance (from which both Accord and Alliance are sourcing) again.

Encourage all stakeholders, including brands and retailers, to stay engaged in Bangladesh.

 

GoB, private sector, workers’ associations, overseas buyers, development partners and ILO, Accord, Alliance - all have come up with resources to put in place specific reform programmes to ensure labour rights, and occupational safety and health of the workers in Bangladesh RMG industry. Under the various initiatives, assessment of fire, electrical and structural integrity of the active export-oriented RMG factories in addition to legal and institutional reform, transparent and accountable inspections, setting up publicly accessible database, ensuring labour rights training and education have substantially reduced accidents in the RMG factories. The gradual reform programmes implemented by the GoB, with support from development partners and stakeholders, has built confidence in the buyers and retailers and therefore, they are placing orders confidently to the suppliers.