Review of cases against RMG union leaders stressed

DHAKA, May 18, 2017 (BSS) - The Sustainability Compact partners today call upon the government to review urgently the cases filed against the union leaders for their alleged involvement in labour unrest at Ashulia in December last year for continuation of the trade privilege to the European Union (EU).

The Compact partners suggested this at the third round of Sustainability Compact meeting held at Radisson Hotel here.

After the Rana Plaza building collapse, Bangladesh signed the International Labour Organisation (ILO) brokered Sustainability Compact with the EU committing responsible business behaviour, strengthening workplace safety and improving the labour right in 2013.

Later, the US and Canada also joined the Sustainability Compact.

The partners recognised the urgent need to further address acts of discrimination against trade unionists, and to effectively investigate and prosecute unfair labour practices in a timely and transparent manner.

The partners also suggested the government for simplifying the trade union rules in the EPZ factories.

After the daylong meeting, the Compact partners in the joint declaration noted that the recent distressing events in Ashulia and renewed the call for all the social partners to act in accordance with the decisions of the tripartite agreement of February 23 this year.

The partners also urged the government to amend the labour law and EPZ law for allowing freedom of association by the workers. In the joint communique, the partners also recognised the need for promoting responsible business conducts.

They encourage brands and retailers to adopt the responsible business conduct practices and a uniform code of conduct for factory audits in Bangladesh.

Recognizing the significant contribution of the Accord, Alliance and national initiative in workplace safety the partners urged the government for commence inspection of the factories which have not been inspected yet.

Recognizing the critical role of that the RMG sector plays in the development of the country, the partners expressed their continued commitment to the people of Bangladesh through supporting responsible business conduct.

The government of Bangladesh's planned strategies to achieve the goals of compact and will continue to review and assess progress together in coming year.

"We note with concern the recent events at the end of last year in Ashulia in which labour leaders were arrested and hundreds of workers were dismissed from their jobs. We call on the factory owners to reinstate those workers who were terminated as agreed in the tripartite MoU," said Mark Linscott, Assistant United States Trade Representative.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said the government has already withdrawn the draft copy of the EPZ law from the parliament for further review.

"We made a lot of progress in workplace safety and labour rights after the Rana Plaza building collapse. Hope the EU will continue our trade privilege," he said.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)