Bangladesh

Capital: Dhaka
Population: 159m. (2014 est.)

Bangladesh ratified ILO Convention No.87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) in 1951 and Convention No.98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949) in 1972 (both having been previously ratified by Pakistan in 1952, before Bangladesh achieved independence).

Bangladesh has a highly complex trade union movement, with dozens of trade union centres and numerous industrial federations. The industrial relations framework emphasises a workplace level structure, placing the national centres at something of a distance from day to day bargaining. Numerous sectors are excluded from the framework, with the result that unions organising in these sectors risk criminal and civil liabilities. A rush of labour law reforms have not solved the core problems, and lawful and effective union organising in the crucial export zone factories remains highly restricted by the legislation.

The recent history of the labour movement in Bangladesh has been of violence, repression, and a series of industrial disasters, culminating in the awful events of 2013, when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, killing more than 1200 workers and injuring thousands more. In the decade leading up to the collapse the background for labour rights was extremely serious, featuring several serious industrial accidents, rising anger at pay and conditions, highly problematic laws that keep unions out of export zones, and numerous serious incidents of violent anti-union repression, including many killings.

Of the many rival trade union centres two coordinating bodies are loosely associated with the ITUC and its predecessor the ICFTU - the Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (SKOP), established in the 1980s, originally affiliated 22 national centres, and currently reports 16 centres in affiliation, and continues to play an important role as a national policy liaison point. The National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education (NCCWE) is another platform of 13 national centres that work with the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies. The influence of socialist and communist politics has been strong in the Bangladeshi labour movement, and the WFTU also has a significant number of affiliates.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Bangladesh, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention letter: violence against trade unionists (2018)

Link to letterIntervention letter: violence against trade unionists (2018)

Link to letterIntervention letter: violence and threats against trade unionists (2017)

Link to letterIntervention letter: arrests and dismissals (2017)

The International Centre for Trade Union Rights

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