Decent work in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) was developed in close collaboration with ILO’s tripartite constituents: the Government, Bangladesh Employers’ Federation and National Coordination Committee for Workers Education. It is being implemented for the period 2012-15, focusing on 12 (twelve) key outcomes:

Outcome 1 – Skills development reforms for employability and livelihoods implemented

Through its technical cooperation project Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform, the ILO will support the efforts of the government and the social partners to reform the TVET system, thereby improving access for people to increase their skills and employability, in particular youth, women and people from vulnerable groups. The ILO will continue to provide its technical support for the implementation of the National Skills Development Policy adopted in 2011. The overall goal is to ensure Bangladesh’s competitiveness in the global market by improving the quality of vocational education and training.

Outcome 2 – Inclusive growth and productive employment integrated into socio-economic policies

Employment promotion, being a cross cutting issue and involving partners beyond the traditional ILO social partners, will require ILO to reach out to other agencies and institutions including the Planning Commission, National Statistical Agency, other government line ministries, research institutions and reputed national think tanks. On-going as well as new and emerging areas like green jobs, trade and employment, youth employment, and impact of economic and financial crisis on social and labour trends, status of compliance of the core labour standards and baseline data and statistics are essential strategic issues within this outcome.

Outcome 3 – Working conditions improved

The focus of the ILO will be (a) to assist in the implementation of the National OSH policy and action plan, ILO Code of Practice to address violence at workplace (b) to raise awareness concerning gender discrimination and violence against women in the workplace and (c) enhancing policy measures which can help improve the wage determination mechanism in the country. In that regard, an awareness and capacity building programme targeting labour inspectors, management of the enterprises and trade union representatives will be implemented. On a sectoral level, the possible establishment of a Better Work programme may provide the ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh with an opportunity to combine further growth with improved working conditions, thus improving its competitive position.

Outcome 4 – Country takes effective measures to respond and implement CEACR recommendation and including fulfilling its reporting obligations

In Bangladesh, tripartite constituents have weak technical capacity to analyse and respond to the specific comments of the CEACR. This is in particular true in case of the government represented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the trade unions. Ministry of Labour and Employment faces transfer of its officials as well as lacks the technical capacity to respond to the CEACR recommendations in a timely and adequate manner. It is therefore important that ILO strengthen the capacity of the Ministry as well as the two other social partners to help adequately respond to the CEACR in an effective manner. The ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work project, and the ILO-SIDA project on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining in the Rural and Export processing sectors will play an important role in this respect.

Outcome 5 – Capacities of labour administration and institutions improved

In line with the ILO’s long-standing commitment to strengthening labour administration structures and institutions to ensure they carry out their functions with greater efficiency and impact, the ILO will deepen its partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Employment. With a focus on strengthening labour inspection, further developing tripartism and sound industrial relations, and the ratification and implementation of international labour standards, the ILO believes this deepened partnership will lead to improved labour administration services. The ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work project and possible implementation of a Better Work programme will play an important role in this respect.

Also, ILO will support government, workers and employers to raise awareness about the rights of young people which will eventually contribute to the reduction of age-based discrimination at workplace.

Outcome 6 – Indigenous and tribal peoples’ rights and access to services strengthened

Based primarily on the principles of relevant ILO Conventions (No.107, No.169, and No.111), the ILO promotes the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples in Bangladesh through its project Building Capacities on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ Issues in Bangladesh: Rights and Good Practices. The project works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs which has a lead role in coordinating and mobilising relevant ministries and authorities to constructively engage with the indigenous rights discourse, through training, awareness raising and dialogue.

Outcome 7 – Coverage of social protection improved

To improve the coverage of social protection, the ILO will spearhead several initiatives in certain target areas. ILO initiatives will be guided by the recently-adopted Minimum Social Protection Recommendation adopted by the ILC in June 2012. As part of the UN Country Team, the ILO will contribute to the development of a national social protection strategy currently being developed by the National Planning Commission. Through its technical cooperation projects namely “Way Out of Informality” and “Promoting Decent Work through Improved Migration Policy and its Application in Bangladesh”, the ILO will work with the relevant government institutions and other partners to improve coverage of social protection including improved migration systems and increase the protection of the migrant workers, especially female migrant workers (See also outcome 9). 

Outcome 8– Worst forms of child labour eliminated

Building on the successful work undertaken by previous child labour projects, on-going efforts led by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the planned National Child Labour Survey and the School to Work Transition Survey, the ILO will provide technical assistance for the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour in Bangladesh. Inter-agency cooperation will be encouraged to improve knowledge sharing, advocacy and technical assistance to the national partners. The Office will facilitate synergies with other relevant ILO or non ILO projects focusing on skills development.

Outcome 9 – Management system of migration strengthened

The ILO will provide administrative and technical support to the implementation of a technical cooperation project on migration namely “Promoting Decent Work through Improved Migration Policy and its Application in Bangladesh” It aims to strengthen legal, policy and institutional capacities, improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, lay the groundwork for protective measures for male and female migrants and their families; and start monitoring and referral schemes for returning migrants. Special attention will be provided for the better regulation of private recruitment agencies in order to reduce migrant recruitment fees and costs.

Outcome 10– Improved capacity of employers contributes to effective DWCP implementation

The ILO will continue to advocate and implement coordinated and well-planned steps towards building the capacity of the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF). Joint work planning at the beginning of the biennium and providing BEF an adequate role in on-going technical cooperation projects (TVET, Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Better Work, Green Jobs, Prevention of Violence Against Women at Workplace etc.) are some of the measures that the ILO believes will improve the capacity of BEF. Together with the ILO, a strategic planning exercise was carried out by BEF in May 2012 in which key areas of joint ILO and BEF work were identified. Four strategic goals for the period 2012-16 were identified which will be aligned with the ILO DWCP.

Outcome 11– Improved capacity of workers contributes to effective DWCP implementation

The ILO will continue to advocate and implement coordinated and well-planned steps towards building the capacity of unions in Bangladesh and promoting a unified response to the priorities and challenges the trade unions face at the country level. This approach is in line with the ILO’s principles and values and will be beneficial to the Bangladeshi trade union movement and the development of the country. The ILO will support the efforts of the National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education (NCCWE), which is now well recognised as a partner and voice of the trade unions in the various forums. Joint work planning at the beginning of the biennium and providing the unions a more prominent role in on going technical cooperation projects are the two measures that the ILO believes will improve the capacity of the unions to play its due role in the implementation of the DWCP. To further boost the capacity of the trade unions, the ILO launched the Project Promoting Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in January 2012. The project will directly focus on strengthening the role of trade unions as well as strengthening the industrial machinery in Bangladesh.

With regard to outcomes 10 & 11 (i.e. capacity building of employers and workers), the ILO will also continue to promote tripartism at the country level as it has been doing in the past through its projects and programmes. New initiatives and areas of cooperation such as Promoting Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, Better Work, Green Jobs, youth employment, migration, and TVET legislation will require full involvement of the unions and employers. They will therefore need to take part in the various forums and consultations so they have the opportunity to contribute to the policy and other decision-making processes. Coordination among different projects and programmes needs to be strengthened and capacity building efforts needs to be institutionalized.

Outcome 12- Strengthened capacity of member states to ratify and apply international labour standard and to fulfil their reporting obligations

One of the ILO’s core areas of work is to help its member States to ratify and apply the provisions of the ratified conventions. Also, the country has to report on ratified and non-ratified conventions. ILO focus in this respect will be to help and equip the MOLE officials and the social partners on the ratification process and fulfil their reporting obligations as a member State of ILO. Based on consultations so far with the ILO constituents, conventions which will be pursued for ratification include the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, the Minimum Age Convention, and the Domestic Workers’ Convention.