Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-Despite facing multi faceted challenges, Bangladesh, the third largest manufacturer and exporter of ready-made garments in the world, has made significant progress in recent times to improve the working conditions of its labour force by taking a number of effective steps.

One such medium of reform has been the enactment of the Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act 2013, which amended several provisions of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 and the formulation of the Bangladesh Labour Policy 2012.

Here, we look at some, but not all, of those measures adopted by the government in recent times:


Under the new labour law, the definition of labour has been amended to make it more inclusive, bringing within its ambit hitherto unfamiliar sectors such as ship breaking, ship building, security service, mobile phone companies, shrimp fishing and processing etc.


In order to make the law time-befitting, a total of 87 sections of the 2006 Labour Act have been amended.

As a result of the said amendments, workers would no longer need approval from factory owners to form trade unions.

The new law also allows trade unions to be formed in the different administrative wings of a factory.


From 2011 Bangladeshi labour law makes provision for 6 months of maternal leave for the female workers who have been permanently working in the organisation for at least 6 months.


Low wage of the garment workers was a burning issue in Bangladesh as the workers and employees couldn’t come to an agreement despite several rounds of talks over the years.

To avoid conflicts and stalemate situations, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came forward and raised the minimum wage of workers by 77 percent from 1600 tk (20 $) to 5300 tk (66 $).


The new law stipulates that 5 percent of annual profit has to be deposited in provident and welfare funds.

It also has the provision of paying compensation for the workers in case of their death, termination from services and accidental deaths during duty hours.


The new law would gradually obligate the factory owners to ensure safety of the workers by providing all personal protection equipments.

They will have to ensure secured power system, ensure that the exit paths are unlocked and the staircases in the factories are kept open during the working hours to meet any emergency.

A new provision for keeping consistency between the structural design of the building and factory lay-out has also been included in the amendment.

It will be mandatory for every factory to keep its workers abreast of work risk(s) with a view to securing occupation health and safety of the workers.

Apart from the amended provisions of the Labour Act and the Labour Policy, other steps and actions of the current government designed to improve health and safety conditions of Bangladeshi workers include:

Strengthening inspection policy

Government is collaborating with ILO to formulate an inspection policy for the factories and establishments.

This policy is designed to ensure effective and prevention-oriented labour inspection and occupational safety.

All the industries in the country will be brought under a comprehensive inspection system.

The Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE) is the designated agency to implement the policy.

Inspectors are being recruited on contract basis for the time being.

Ratifying tripartite National Plan of Action

A tripartite National Plan of Action on fire safety in the RMG sector collaboratively signed by the representatives of workers, owners and the Ministry of Labour & Employment with the support of ILO aims to focus on: i) Verification of building and fire safety of the factories; ii) Strengthening inspection facilities; iii) Training on occupational safety and health; iv) Rehabilitation of disabled workers injured by workplace accidents; v) Implementation of Better Work programme.

Ensuring health and safety

To ensure the occupational health and safety for every factory worker in Bangladesh, the current government has finalised a draft of a policy on this issue.

The draft provides inter alia, collection of accurate data on occupational hazards, number of sick and affected workers, treated workers, rehabilitation of an injured worker, ensuring security of the female workers, establishing specialized institute for occupational disease diagnosis and treatment, establishing labour court at labour dense areas etc.

Implementing worker’s insurance

To secure the life of the labours at work, Bangladesh is planning to provide life insurance for the RMG workers in the first phase.

Significantly, informal labour has also been brought under life insurance coverage.

In 2013, government collaborated with Worker’s Welfare Foundation Board to ensure safety for the construction workers in the country.

Novel initiatives

Bangladesh government is considering providing cheap housing or accommodation facilities for RMG workers.

The Department of Women Affairs under Ministry of Women and Children Affairs has acquired 0.97 acres of land in the outskirts of Dhaka to build a hostel for female RMG workers.

This project will be started from 2017.

By the same token, the government is collaborating with the Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) to provide lodging facilities to 1000 female RMG workers along with a market, a hospital, open grounds and gardens.

The recent inclinations towards change have definitely started a new era in Bangladesh in terms of ensuring labour rights.

According to national and international community the new labour law was a major advancement in establishing workers’ rights, and if properly implemented, it would usher in a new era of prosperity in the industrial sector.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) finds that within one year (from April 2013 onwards) the government has successfully implemented 31 percent pledges while 60 percent of them are in the process of being implemented.

US ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena, appreciating the changes taking place in Bangladeshi workers health and safety issues, recently remarked the country is “on track to achieve a strong, dynamic, profitable garment industry, one where workers are fairly compensated, and have a voice in their working conditions to ensure their safety and security”.

BBN/ANS/AD-13May14-4:50pm (BST)