Ministerial meeting soon to determine action plan
Mahfuja Mukul: The United States has announced that various types of sanctions, including trade sanctions, may be imposed on those who take away labor rights, intimidate and attack workers around the world. In this case, the name of a labor rights worker in Bangladesh has also been cited as an example. Experts said, such announcement of the United States is a big warning for Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Labour, Commerce, Law and Home Affairs will hold an inter-ministerial meeting soon to decide what to do by the government in view of the US announcement.
Officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Labor said that such an announcement came last Thursday local time in the United States. After that, there was no opportunity to discuss this matter as Friday and Saturday were weekly holidays in Bangladesh. However, the ministries will hold a meeting among themselves on Sunday, the first working day of the week. After that, the inter-ministerial meeting can be held this week by contacting other ministries and fixing the date. Next steps will be taken according to the decision of the meeting.
In this regard, the Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Employment. Ehsan Elahi told Daily Industry that the European Union delegation came recently to discuss the country’s labor situation. Bangladesh’s commitment to protecting labor rights has been implemented in most cases. The EU delegation also expressed satisfaction over the initiatives taken by Bangladesh in establishing labor rights.
He said that more than 80 percent has been achieved according to the roadmap of Bangladesh with EU and ILO in establishing labor rights. They will hold a meeting with the officials of the ministry regarding the new declaration of the United States. International issues of labor rights are looked after by the Ministry of Law. If necessary, discussions will also be held with the Law Minister. At the same time, discussions will be initiated with the Ministry of Home Affairs, BGMEA, BKMES and other labor organizations.
Commerce Ministry officials said the European Union has recently raised questions about progress in national action plans to ensure labor rights. Although various initiatives have already been taken to protect labor rights, including amending the labor law, an inter-ministerial meeting will be called soon to determine whether there are any more deficiencies in this regard. After this if any shortfalls arise, necessary steps will be taken to overcome them. Because, about 20 percent of Bangladesh’s total export income comes from the United States. Therefore, if there is any obstacle in this market trade, the overall export trade may have a major impact. So, their priority now is to make sure that it doesn’t work in Bangladesh.
Economists find US policy quite worrisome. They have suggested a dialogue with the United States government giving great importance to the matter. If asked, the executive director of private research organization PRI. Ahsan H. Mansoor told that the manner in which the US government specifically mentioned the name of a Bangladeshi labor leader from such a high level is a matter of surprise and great concern. Such specifics are not usually stated. Government and industrialists should have paid attention to this earlier. He suggested to solve it through dialogue with the US government.
Salim Raihan, professor of economics department of Dhaka University and executive director of research organization Sanem told that the movement of garment workers over minimum wages could have been dealt with more carefully. From the US statement, it seems that the issue is no longer limited to the wage issue. He also suggested finding a solution to the problem through dialogue with the US government.
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