EU delegation seeks to know if ILO pleased with amendment of labour act

Foreign secretary speaks to the media in Dhaka on 15 November, 2023.
Prothom Alo

The visiting delegation of the European Union (EU) has sought to know whether the International Labour Organization (ILO) is content with the recently amended labour act of Bangladesh.

They also discussed some other issues, including freedom of expression, meetings, and arbitrary arrests during a meeting with the foreign, commerce, and labour and employment secretaries at the state guest house, Padma, on Wednesday afternoon.

Later, foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen and labour and employment secretary Ehsan-e-Elahi briefed the media regarding their meeting.

Secretary Ehsan-e-Elahi said, “We have fulfilled 80 per cent of the nine targets adopted in the national action plan for the labour sector. The EU delegation asked if the ILO is satisfied with the amendment to the labour act, and we responded saying we are involved with the ILO in the process.”

Foreign secretary Masud Bin Momen said they discussed the prevailing unrest in the labour sector. They explained the situation to the EU delegation, while the latter expressed optimism that the issues will be fixed soon.

The issue of wage hike came to discussion, but the EU delegation did not raise any question regarding the minimum wage, he added.

The foreign secretary further said the EU delegation discussed some issues related to human rights, particularly freedom of expression, meetings, and arbitrary arrests, in the light of UPR.

When the issue of election came up for discussions, they expressed hope that the next election will take place in a free and fair manner, the foreign secretary added.

At the briefing, commerce secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said the garment sector contributes around 85 per cent of the country’s total exports. It will be meaningless if the garment sector remains out of duty-free trade privileges after graduating from the LDC group despite having GSP+ benefits.

Hence, they requested adding the garment sector to the facility. Under the GSP+ benefits, Bangladesh has already signed 32 conventions and has been at different stages of their implementation.

“We said the successes of the garment sector should not be punished; rather, it should be encouraged,” he added.

The EU monitoring mission – led by Paola Pampaloni, deputy managing director of the European External Action Service – came to Dhaka on 12 November to assess the developments in the labour sector in Bangladesh.