Published: Monday, July 15, 2013

Trade unionism set free

Star file photo.

Star file photo.

The parliament Monday passed an amended labour law that allows full freedom for trade unionism in the industries.

Labour and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju placed the Labour Law (amendment 2006)-2013, bill in the parliament, which was passed by voice votes by the treasury bench lawmakers amid absence of the opposition MPs.

Twenty six more amendments were also tabled in the parliament.

Mujibul Haque and Junaid Ahmed Polok, two treasury bench lawmakers, proposed the new amendments.

The amendment came in a bid to appease the Obama administration to regain the duty benefits suspended by the US on June 27 on grounds of poor labour rights and unsafe working conditions.

The modification to Section 178 means employees would no longer need approval from factory owners to form trade unions. From now, workers would just need to apply to the labour directorate for authorisation.

No member of a trade union’s executive committee can be transferred to another factory of the same owner in the wake of any labour unrest.

Moreover, up to five trade unions can now be formed in one factory instead of just two, thanks to another change in the labour law.

The amendment also allows trade unions to be formed in the different administrative wings of a factory, something not permitted under the existing law.

To improve the living standards of workers, the government, buyers and owners will have to form a central fund for the employed beneficiaries of 100 percent export-oriented industries and wholly foreign-owned companies.

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

No change can be made in the factory layout plan without the permission of factory inspectors, the amended law states.

If any worker dies after two years’ in service, the management of the industries will have to pay compensation equivalent to one month’s salary. And, if a worker dies in an accident during service, his relatives will be given a compensation equivalent to 45 days’ salary.

If an owner sacks a worker who has served for more than a year at the factory, he/she is entitled to 15 days’ salary for every year of service.

But if the worker is sacked for misconduct, he/she is not owed any compensation. Theft, embezzlement, vandalism, arson and disruptive behaviour constitute as misconduct under the amended law.