Statement by Srinivasa B Reddy on May Day 2016

Statement | Dhaka, Bangladesh | 02 May 2016
Statement by Srinivasa B Reddy
ILO Country Director for Bangladesh,
on the occasion of the
Observance of the Historic May Day 2016

Her Excellency, Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, MP
Hon’ble Chair Mr. Mujibul Haque MP, State Minister for Labour & Employment
Hon’ble Special Guest Begum Monnojan Sufian MP, Chairperson, Parliamentary Standing Committee
Mr. Mikhail Shipar, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment,
President of Bangladesh Employers’ Federation Mr. Salah Uddin Kasem Khan
President of Jatiya Sramik League Mr. Sukkur Mahmud
Honble Ministers, Members of the Parliament
Representatives of the workers and employers organizations,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the International Labour Organization it is a great honor to  take part in these May Day celebrations.

On May Day we come together to recognize the contribution of the workers. We recognize their efforts that form the very foundations upon which nations are built.

On this occasion it is pertinent to refer to the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 8 on Decent Work and Inclusive Economic Growth.  SDGs are highly relevant to Bangladesh as the country is passing through the critical transition phase to Middle Income Country. Inclusive economic growth and Decent Work can play a vital role in making Bangladesh an inclusive, peaceful, prosperous and happy nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past year Bangladesh has continued to make progress in creating new jobs and on many labour policy matters. Skills development, safe migration, work place safety and workers’ rights attracted high attention during the last one year.

Bangladesh government, employers and workers have done commendable work by completing the safety inspection of all RMG factories with the support of brands and buyers and the international partners through the Accord, Alliance and the National Initiative. Completing remediation by all including the National Initiative factories has to be the high priority.

The reform of the Factories department has continued with the support of Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Labour and Employment for leading these reforms. Fire Safety and Civil Defense Department has also shown visible progress
and we are glad to partner with them with the support of the US Department of Labor.

It is the turn of Rajuk and Chittagong Development Authority to step up their monitoring role to support the garment sector.

While there has been good progress in enhancing safety, progress relating to workers’ rights has been slow and challenging, as noted in the second annual review of the Sustainability Compact by the compact parties, the European Union, Bangladesh, Canada, United States of America and the ILO.

Efforts need to  be made to enable speedy and smooth registration of trade unions. Complaints of anti-union discrimination and unfair labour practices should be investigated in a timely and transparent manner.

Social Dialogue between employers and workers organizations need to be fostered and promoted to enhance partnerships and trust. ILO with the support of Sweden and Denmark will soon launch a new initiative to promote social dialogue and harmonious industrial relations in Bangladesh. This will build on the Fundamental Principles and Rights at work initiatives supported by Norway and the United States of America.

While much attention over the past year has focused on the RMG sector we should also recognize government’s continuing efforts on skills development to increase employability for young Bangladeshi women and men.

ILO with the support of the European Union assisted in development of new skills training models that bring private sector close to the training providers bridging the gap between supply and demand. We are continuing to provide support to Bangladesh with the Support of Canada, Sweden and H&M, in advancing implementation of the National Skills Development Policy.

We are glad to see the high level of importance given by Bangladesh government for skills development with a large number of interventions and Hon’ble Prime Minister herself chairing the National Skills Development Council.

In addition, May Day is also a time to recognize the contribution of millions of Bangladeshi migrants working all over the world. They too deserve Decent Work free of exploitation. With the support of the Government Switzerland, ILO is providing support to Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment and other partners to promote safe, fair and skilled migration of Bangladesh workers and also to address the needs of returning migrant workers.

Lack of adequate protection to the workers in informal economy is a major area of concern as more than 80 per cent of workers work in the informal economy. ILO with the support of Japan piloted formalization of informal workers in construction sector which had shown promising results. More needs to be done to protect millions of these informal workers.

Learning lessons from the past accidents, ILO in collaboration with Germany is working with Bangladesh government to develop a National Employment Injury Social Protection Scheme to ensure that workers receive compensation as a matter of right in case of accidents and protect employers from financial distress by spreading the risk.

Finally, on this historic day, may I applaud the Government of Bangladesh as well as the representatives of employers and workers organizations for their whole-hearted support and commitment to our joint activities over the past year to advance Decent Work in Bangladesh. I truly believe that together we can overcome the challenges and realize Decent Work for All in Bangladesh.

Thank you for your kind attention.