DHAKA (ILO News) – An ILO video featuring three young women trade union leaders has gone viral on YouTube. The 3.45 minute advocacy film tells the inspiring story of the trio who collectively organised themselves to form a trade union.
Although the film was produced five years ago, a groundswell of interest on the issue of worker’s rights and freedom of association in Bangladesh has generated close to 800K views.
Freedom of association is the right to organize and form employers' and workers' organizations and is crucial for collective bargaining and social dialogue between employers and workers. The ILO promotes these issues by ensuring workers and employers have better knowledge and understanding of labour rights and responsibilities.
“Our work in Bangladesh centres around advancing social justice and promoting decent work and this video truly captures those ideals,” said Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, ILO Bangladesh. “This video really has struck a chord with our audience and it’s encouraging to know that hundreds of thousands of people in the country are watching, sharing and promoting the messages and values of the ILO in Bangladesh during its 100-years anniversary.
Ruma Akter, one of the workers featured in the film, is a founding member of the Well Tex Sromik (Workers) Union. The young working mother was inspired to gather workers together after seeing a TV talk show on workers’ rights. The union is now formally registered and has 500 members.
“In the past if a worker fell sick, he or she would hesitate to ask the supervisor for leave. We had courage but no way to act on that courage,” explains Akter. “The union has united workers and given us all the strength and voice to raise our concerns with the management. This also helps the management and avoids any unrest or delays in production.”
Md Majedul Huq Chishty is the Managing Director of Well Tex Ltd., the ready-made garment (RMG) factory where Ruma and her co-workers are employed. “Working conditions here have improved and the unions have a strong and important voice in the factory. If there is ever an issue, we are informed immediately and now able to take preventive steps,” he said.
The ILO video was originally uploaded in April 2014, and over the past five years has gradually gained traction and views on YouTube. Over the past six months, however, the viewership has rocketed with thousands of views each day.
“According to our data analysis, the majority of the viewers are from Bangladesh. The next wave of interest has been coming from tens of thousands of viewers in India, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia,” explained Iqbal Nandra, Communications Specialist with the ILO in Bangladesh.“What’s really encouraging is the level of audience engagement with the film and the message. Our research has shown that viewers are watching the video in its entirety, actively sharing it and voicing their support for not just labour rights but women’s rights in the RMG sector.”
With the support of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the USA, the ILO has run a number of projects since 2011 to improve workers’ rights and industrial relations in Bangladesh.
• To know more about ILO’s work on freedom of association in Bangladesh, visit