Tripartite council to address RMG sector labour issues

Tripartite council to address RMG sector labour issues

The government of Bangladesh has formed a tripartite advisory council to address labour issues that sometimes stimulate volatility in the labour-intensive readymade garment (RMG) industry and hinder it’s further growth, officials said.

The 20-member committee, headed by the labour and employment minister, is comprised of six representatives each from the government, workers and factory owners — Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).

The sector largely contributes to the economy and employs four million people, mostly women.

Officials said the move came following a demand from the industry for a permanent council or forum as most of the existing tripartite forums or institutions have no strong legal foundation while most of those were ad hoc ones or formed mainly during a disaster or crisis.

The necessity of forming such council was also fuelled by the recent Ashulia incident that again drew attention both at home and abroad while some top five buyers of the country’s apparel sector boycotting the last apparel summit amid allegation of repression on labour, a labour ministry official said.

The international community put pressure on the government after the arrest of 35 workers and unionists during the Ashulia garment unrest in December last.

However, the buyers attended the summit following an assurance by the government and the factory owners. The detained workers were released later.

Officials said the advisory council has been formed to resolve any crisis, especially labour issues, in the sector through dialogues.

In a gazette issued on March 06, the labour ministry published the names of the representatives of the council.

The council will mainly recommend the government on how to improve the industrial relations between the factory owners and the workers, and how to improve their productivity, a labour ministry official said.

The council members will meet thrice a year to discuss the latest labour situation and update the government, they said, adding that the council head could call more meetings if needed.