Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya said allowing trade union as a solution to recurrence of disturbances in the garment/textile industries. We would like to raise some points for him to think and then make suggestions because his suggestions are highly important for the local decision-makers as well as foreign customers and donor agencies.
Though trade union is not officially allowed in garment and textile industries, most of the factory workers are affiliated with different trade unions and they are almost 20 in number. But what good those trade unions did for them remains a question.
We studied the manifestos or declarations of some trade unions and found that none of those has any specific clause on occupational health and safety or issues like fire safety which is a common problem in this industry.
All the government-owned factories and some big enterprises allow trade unions and if you go there you'll find that the health and safety condition there is worse than any RMG/textile industry. The government body which looks after the trade union matters is not well equipped in terms of human resource and don't know how to deal with occupational health hazard.
You will not find any instance where unions or rights groups of workers bargained with the entrepreneurs for ensuring healthy work environment or installing fire safety measures.