Bangladesh's amended 'Labor Law' falls short of aim, says HRW

Dhaka, July 16 (ANI): Amendments to Bangladesh's labor law have made some improvements but they still fall far short of protecting worker's rights and meeting international standards, Human Rights Watch said.

The impetus for a reformed labor rights law sprang from the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in greater Dhaka in April, which killed more than 1,100 garment factory workers.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said that the Bangladesh government desperately wants to move the spotlight away from the Rana Plaza disaster, so it's not surprising it is now trying to show that it belatedly cares about workers' rights.

Human Rights Watch said that the new amendments deal with only some problematic provisions of the existing law, while leaving others untouched.

At least 30 percent of the workers in an establishment would still have to join a union for the government to register it.

Unions will be allowed to select their leaders only from workers at the establishment.

Workers in export processing zones, which cover a large percentage of Bangladesh's work force, would remain legally unable to form trade unions.

The right to strike will remain burdened by a cumbersome bureaucratic process and the requirement that two-thirds of the union's membership would have to vote for a strike.

The government will be able to stop a strike if it decides it would cause serious hardship to the community or is prejudicial to the national interest.

The revised Labor Act could also have a major negative impact on unions by expanding government control over unions' access to foreign funding.

Human Rights Watch further said that the revised law includes no measures to tackle sexual harassment of women, who make up the vast majority of workers in the ready-made garment sector. (ANI)