The ILO Brief - Labour Administration in Bangladesh: Department of Labour (DoL)

This brief provides an overview of the labour administration structure of Bangladesh: the roles and responsibilities of the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) and the Department of Labour (DoL); major areas of concern; the ILO's collaboration with DoL; challenges of establishing an effective social dialogue mechanism and potential solutions and ways forward.

There are five agencies responsible for establishing a sound labour administration system in Bangladesh, under the purview of MoLE. As stipulated in the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006, the DoL is tasked with regulating labour market governance and labour relations The other key functions of DoL are: act as a conciliation machine to deal with labour disputes (including strikes and lockouts); registration and regulation of trade unions, participation committees (PCs) and Collective Bargaining Agencies; management and prosecution of complaints related to anti-trade union discrimination, and unfair labour practices. Lack of harmonious industrial relations, coupled with low unionization rates, poor capacity of the collective bargaining agents, as well as limited access to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, make DoL’s role extremely challenging. The key areas of cooperation between the ILO and DoL are building capacity on a number of issues; development of standard operating procedures (SOPs) on union registration and unfair labour practices; establishment of the RMG Tripartite Consultative Committee (TCC), and the development of enterprise-level grievance handling guidelines. Based on the current capacity of DoL, the areas that need urgent improvements are: (1) strengthening institutional capacity to render better services; (2) establishing speedy trade union registration in compliance with the concerned SoPs, and (3) accelerating dispute resolution mechanisms and the management of unfair labour practices. Moving forward, the current ILO collaboration with DoL needs scaling up to ensure an effective labour administration system.