Bangladesh offers an abundant supply of disciplined, easily trainable and low-cost workers suitable for any labor-intensive industry in the world.
Of late, there is an increasing supply of professionals, technologists and another middle- and low-level skilled workers. They receive specialized technical training for universities, colleges, technical training centers, polytechnic institutions, etc.
The minimum age for workers in Bangladesh is 18 years in factories and establishments.
Contracts are made in the form of a letter of offer. Workers may also be engaged in verbal agreements.
In government organizations and in some private organizations as well, a probation period exists for skilled or semi-skilled workers varying between three months to one year. During this period either party may serve one month’s notice for termination of the job. In the private sector, the dignity of labor is ensured in accordance with the principles enunciated by the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) conventions and recommendations.
In Bangladesh 48 labor laws are now in operation. These relate to wages and employment, trade union & industrial disputes, working environments and labor administration and related matters.
The main labor laws are:
- Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923
- Payment of Wages Act, 1936
- Maternity Benefits Act, 1936
- Employment of Labour (Standing Orders) Act, 1965
- Shops & Establishments Act, 1965
- Factories Act, 1965
- Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969
SETTLEMENT OF LABOUR DISPUTES:
Contracts or agreements are usually made between the management and the Collective Bargaining Agent (CBA) for the settlement of industrial disputes as per provisions of the Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969.
In cases where a bipartite negotiation fails, the conciliation machinery of the government is requested by the aggrieved party to intervene and a conciliation process is undertaken. If this succeeds, an agreement is signed between the parties and the Conciliation Officer becomes a witness. If it fails, the party raising the dispute may go for a strike or lockout as the case may be. The government may, however, prohibit the same after one month in the interest of the public. In essential services such as electricity, gas, oil and water supply, etc., hospital & ambulance services, fire brigades, railways and the Bangladesh Biman, and ports, etc., strikes are prohibited.
WAGES AND FRINGE BENEFITS:
In the public sector, wages and fringe benefits of workers are determined by the government on the recommendation of the National Wages Commission, which is established from time to time. (Commissions were appointed in 1973, 1977, 1984, 1989 and 1992.) Wages and fringe benefits declared by the government in 1977 have 20 grades of wages. Public sector employees are, however, covered by the Pay Commission which is declared by the government from time to time.
In the private sector, the wages and fringes benefit of workers and employees are determined through a collective bargaining process. Sometimes, private industries follow the public-sector wages and salary structure for their workers and employees respectively.
LEAVE & HOLIDAYS:
Leave and holidays of workers and employees are regulated and executed by the Factories Act 1965 and the Shops Establishment Act 1965.
The Workmen’s Compensation, Maternity Benefit (Tea Estate) Act 1950, Maternity Benefit Act 1939 and Employment of Labour (standing orders) Act 1965, etc. deal with provident funds and gratuities.
The Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969 deals with trade unions in Bangladesh. In any industrial and commercial establishment, a trade union may be formed with 30% of the total number of workers employed. If there is more than one union in any establishment, a collective bargaining agent is determined by the Registrar of the trade union through a sector ballot for a term of two years. Only the collective bargaining agent is authorized to raise industrial disputes and negotiate with the management. The Director of Labour of the government acts as the Registrar of Trade Unions in Bangladesh.
The Industrial Relations Ordinance 1969 provides that any worker or employer/ has the right to form a union/association without previous authorization. But such a union/association cannot function as a trade union without being registered under the law.
Workers in the public or private sector remain at their job for 8.5 hours daily (including half an hour for meal or rest) with Friday as a weekly holiday marking 48 working hours per week. Work in excess of these hours is paid as overtime. The rate of overtime is two hours to pay for one hour of work.