The Cabinet on Monday approved in principle the draft of Bangladesh Labour Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 with more facilities for workers and reducing the workers’ threshold to 20 percent from the existing 30 percent for forming trade unions.
The approval was given at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at the secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Under the proposed law, the percentage of workers’ participation required for forming trade unions at factories will be reduced to 20 percent from the existing 30 percent, said Cabinet Secretary Md Shafiul Alam.
The draft bill has been prepared and updated following the observation of the International Labour Organization (ILO). “The amended law will be a labour-friendly one,” said the Cabinet Secretary.
“Under the proposed law, no child will be allowed to work in factories. If anybody employs child workers, then he or she will have to pay a fine of Tk 5,000,” he added.
In the draft bill, the punishment of workers for violating laws has been reduced by 50 percent while new facilities included for them.
Under the draft law, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment has been upgraded to the level of Directorate. The post of the chief inspector of the department is now inspector general, while deputy director general is additional inspector general, and the post of labour director has been upgraded to the rank of director general, Shafiul Alam said.
Under the proposed law, he said, mentally and physically-challenged labourers cannot be employed in any risky works.
According to section 47 of the draft, if any female worker gives birth to a baby before informing the authorities, she will get an eight-week leave within three days after informing the authorities. If the factory authorities do not allow her to go on leave, they will be fined Tk 25,000.
Besides, if any worker does his or her duty during festival, he or she will get a one-day leave and wage for two days after the festival.
Both owners and workers will be sentenced to one year jail with a fine of Tk 10,000 for misconduct, which was two years in the previous law.
Section 195 of the draft law will be applicable for factory owners and section-196 for labourers and workers.
In case of natural death, the family of the worker concerned will get Tk 2 lakh as compensation, which was Tk1 lakh in the previous law, and in the case of injury, they will get Tk 2.50 lakh, which is now Tk 1.25 lakh.
Besides, if the owner is forced to sign or accept anything applying force, issuing threat, confinement, torture and detaching gas, power and water connections, this will be considered as misconduct, the Cabinet Secretary said.
In the draft law, the punishment for enforcing strike illegally has been reduced to six months from one year.
As per the proposed law, Shafiul Alam said, the support of 51 percent workers is needed against present two-thirds of total workers to call a strike. “Illegal enforcement of strike will also be considered as misconduct.”
If anyone is found to be a member of a number of trade unions at the same time, he or she will be sentenced to one month’s imprisonment which was six months in the previous law.
According to the ILO convention, the draft law has a scope to form a tripartite advisory council consisting of the government, owners and workers, Shafiul Alam said.
Once the proposed bill is passed in Parliament, the Labour Court will have to deliver judgment in a case within 90 days from the date of filing it and if it is not possible to announce the verdict in the stipulated time, the court must deliver its judgment in the next 90 days.
In case of appeal petition, the court will have to pass its order within 90 days.
As per the draft law, the government will have to give registration to a trade union within 55 days from receiving the application which was in 60 days in the previous law.