The Cabinet today approved in principal the draft of Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act, 2018 aimed at making it friendlier for workers alongside disciplining workers and owners conduct for increased productivity.
“The cabinet approved the law in the weekly cabinet meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair,” Cabinet Secretary Md. Shafiul Alam told a news briefing after the meeting, local media reported.
He added: “The amendment to the labour law was brought to make it suitable to the proposals of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to ensure labour friendly atmosphere in every industries”.
Alam said the law proposed formation of a tripartite consultation committee (TCC) comprising workers, owners and government representatives to resolve any industrial dispute.
Simultaneously, he said, the draft incorporated tougher provisions to strictly prohibit misconducts on the part of owners and workers.
“A worker or owner would get one year imprisonment or penalty of Taka 10,000 or both for any misconduct including violation of the law,” Alam said.
The law suggested punitive actions for workers acts like mounting undue pressure, threat or physical assault to compel owners to sign any agreement, disrupting power, gas or water supplies and unlawful shut downs.
The law said support of 51 percent workers would be required to enforce any work abstention or lock-out while it reduced the jail term of a worker for taking part in any illegal lock-out to six month from one year.
The labour law was originally framed in 2006 to protect worker rights and increase productivity which was radically amended in 2013.
The law proposed increased allowances and benefits and lessening punitive measures against the labourers while it suggested that working hour of a labour in general should not be more than 10 hours a day excluding dining and rest time.
“However, the law kept provisions so the government can change the working time for specialized industries,” Alam said. According to the law, expectant mothers would be entitled to get eight week maternity leave and other benefits within three days of submission of necessary of documents.
“An owner may face penalty of Taka 25,000 on charge of depriving an expectant mother from maternity leave,” he said referring to the draft.
The law suggested that the labourers would be entitled to get festival allowances as per rules and workers of the export oriented and foreign exchange earning industries would enjoy the facilities from central group insurance policy.
At the same time, he said, the law prohibited engagement of children and physically challenged persons in any risky job.
Every industrial unit having more than 25 workers must have an arrangement of a dining and rest room with the facilities of drinking water.
Worker if wish could enjoy weekly holiday merging with festival holidays.
On any festival holiday, a worker could be asked to work in exchange of an one day alternate holiday and compensation allowances equivalent to wages of two days.
According to the law, the government would prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) for registration of the labour organizations. A labour organization would apply for registration in specific form and the Director General of the Labour Directorate would resolve the application within 55 days.
A worker of an industry can be member of only one trade union, the law said but suggested one month imprisonment for duel membership.
The law also proposed elevated status of the government’s inspection unit to be headed by a director general.
“Thus, the post of the Labour Inspector would be upgraded to Inspector General, deputy director to additional inspector general, joint inspector to joint inspector general and assistant inspector to assistant inspector general,” Alam said.
The position of the Director of the Department of Labour would be elevated to the post Director General while other posts would be upgraded accordingly, the cabinet secretary said.