Govt takes labour rights as integral part of economy: PM

SEA Meeting Bangladesh

NEW YORK, Sept 19, 2017 (BSS)- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said her government has taken the issue of labour rights as an integral part of the economy and society.

“We are looking to the protection of labour rights as an integral part of the economy and society as our commitment for the protection of human rights and labour rights remain steadfast,” she told a high-level follow up meeting of Global Deal for Decent Work and Inclusive Growth here on Monday evening.

Pointing out the programmes for promoting the Global Deal for Decent Work in collaboration with Sweden, she said Bangladesh believes that if the overall socioeconomic development is ensured, it will eventually enhance decent jobs and labour rights.

Sheikh Hasina said the Bangladesh government has started implementing the”Better Work Programme” under which a massive training programme is going on under the Social Dialogue and Harmonious Industrial Relations Project.

She said the ‘Tripartite Consultative Council’ dedicated for addressing the RMG sector labour issues has been established. The council, composed of members from government, labour leaders and business community and employers, is to support social dialogue in the labour sector of Bangladesh for achieving harmonious industrial relations, she said.

This high-level follow-up meeting of the last year’s ‘Global Deal for Decent Work and Inclusive Growth’ was convened to take stock of progress in labour situation and pave the way for future efforts in promoting social dialogue on the issue.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Angel Gurria also spoke on the occasion.

Sheikh Hasina said for the last nine years, Bangladesh is striving to strengthening its democracy. “Our relentless efforts have also been successful in achieving tremendous socioeconomic progress,” she said.

The premier said the government has brought “pro-labour changes” in labour laws which have contributed to uplifting the work condition. Sheikh Hasina said the minimum wage of garments workers was increased three folds in past five years.

“It has contributed to ensuring better life, livelihood and working environment and income stability of the workers,” she said.

Thanks to various pro-development actions of the government, she said, per capita income of the citizens has been almost tripled over the last nine years, while significant progress was made in poverty alleviation.

Sheikh Hasina laid importance on effective dialogue between all stakeholders in industrial relations, skill development of work force and win-win opportunity for all stakeholders in the labour market.

She said effective dialogue between all stakeholders in industrial relations is critical to stability and ensuring labour rights. In view of this, she said, Bangladesh has constituted tripartite forum like National Tripartite Consultative Council (TCC), which is functioning very well.

Sheikh Hasina said representatives of the labour unions and employers and government representatives come together to discuss various issues of interest, where government plays a role of facilitator.

About the skill development, the premier said economic growth and social development enhance productivity of a work force. “Bangladesh has attached special focus on developing skills of the working population as skill development is central to productivity,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken a number of pragmatic steps, such as formation of the National Skills Development Authority (NSDA) under the Prime Minister’s Office to undertake programmes to enhance the overall productivity through coordination among all ongoing skill development activities.

The prime minister said inclusive growth cannot be achieved without spreading good business practice. “Global Deal has been signed to generate inclusive growth and it seeks to offer win-win opportunities for all stakeholders in the labour market,” she said adding that responsible business behaviour is “our efforts to foster a sustainable work practices.”