RMG Trade Union in Bangladesh: Situation, Response and Challenge Afzal Kabir Khan1, Syed Musa Kajim Nuri2, Subrata Banarjee3
A trade union is an organisation of workers who have bend or unified together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The ready-made Garment (RMG) sector has started its journey in the late 1970s in Bangladesh and it is one of the keys of our national economy The RMG industry in Bangladesh accounts for more than 75 per cent of total exports .But still trade unions in this sector are not developed accordingly. Most trade unions in the RMG sector operate outside the factories and therefore lack active participation of the general workers. A combination of factors such as lack of enforcement of labour laws, inhibiting legal provisions, and system of contract labour are responsible for reduced trade union membership in these sectors. Besides, low response and uncooperative attitude of owners, lack of awareness and knowledge about trade union, low visibility of activities of trade union are also the causes of not establishing strong trade union in RMG sector.
Keywords: Trade Union, labour, RMG, rights, movements,
1. Trade Union and its Background
Trade union is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their working lives.4 A trade union is also called as a labour union. A labour union is an organisation of workers who have bend or unified together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its voluntary; bargains with the employer on behalf of the union members, which may include the negotiation of working conditions like wages, rules, time, and job security etc. Trade Union in a rising democracy, is mandatory for every people to present, get and preserves their own rights and form institution. Trade Union is such an organisation of Trade workers in factory by which the workers can promote their economic, political and social right. Developing economies like Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea presented themselves as good destinations for relocations because they had open economic policies and had non-unionized and highly disciplined labour force that could produce high quality products at much cheaper costs. In order to control the level of imported RMG products from developing countries into developed countries, Multi Fiber Agreement (MFA) was made in 1974. Trade Union Movement in Bangladesh has very long past. The beginning of labour agitation in India was in Bengal amd Indian Trade Union Act was enacted in 1926. Before that the Indian workers were denied the fundamental rights of freedom of association. The Indian Trade Union act, 1926 was enacted with a view “to provide for the registration of Trade Unions and in certain respects to define the law relating to registered trade unions.” The right to strike and lock-out were ultimately recognized in India indirectly under the provisions of the Indian Trade Dispute Act, 1929. The act provided for adhoc Conciliation Board and Court of Inquiry for the settlement of trade disputes.
2. Registered Trade Unions in Bangladesh
At present, a total of 5,242 basic unions are registered. Of which, most of the unions are affiliated with national federations. But other than nationalized sector, almost 30 percent of the basic unions are not affiliated with any national federations.
Total Number of Union/ Federation
No. of Unions included
Total No. of Members
Source: Directorate of Labour, Ministry of Labour and Employment, GoB (data upto June, 2012)
Out of 108 industrial federations and 15 Garment Federations, some are affiliated with national federations. As per the current statistics of the Directorate of...
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