Labour rights situation does not call for US sanctions: Commence ministry

Commerce secretary Tapan Kanti Das said no situation has arisen as yet for the US to impose sanctions on Bangladesh regarding labour rights.

The US has announced a new labour policy aimed at improving the global labour conditions and Bangladesh is also working to this end, he said.

The commerce secretary made these remarks after the inter-ministerial meeting on the review of the progress of implementation of the National Action Plan on the Labour Sector at commerce ministry at the Secretariat in Dhaka on Monday.

Officials of the foreign ministry, commerce ministry, and the government agencies concerned, as well as representatives of various trade bodies including the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) were present at the meeting.

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Sources said the meeting discussed a wide range of issues including labour quality, progress of labour law implementation, labour rights and fair wages.

Tapan Kanti Das said labour right situations has made adequate progress through the Bangladesh Economic Zones Act and the amendment of Labour Act, and the US will be informed about the progress soon.

“Bangladesh exports readymade garments in compliance with product quality, global demand and labour rights, not at anyone's favour,” he added.

In its assessment report on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) covering the period 2020-2022, the European Union said in November that Bangladesh made some progress in labour rights, but the authorities should pick up pace of implementing their commitments on these rights.

The commerce ministry said a new minimum wage has been announced in the readymade garment sector, effective from January, and the government is working on what more can be done for labour welfare.

Tapan Kanti Das further said the EU and the US had some preconditions, and the Bangladesh Economic Zones Act and the Labour Act have fulfilled the prerequisites of the US to a large extent. The Labour Act has been amended three times in the past couple of years, he added.