Bangladesh has been named as one of the worst countries for working people in 2020, according to a new survey.
The seventh edition of the ITUC Global Rights Index, which ranks 144 countries on the degree of respect for workers’ rights, found the South Asia garment exporter amongst the top ten worst countries for working people. Others were Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Turkey and Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh was cited in the report for its violence, mass dismissal, and regressive laws. The Middle East and North Africa is the worst region in the world for working people, for seven years running, due to the ongoing insecurity and conflict in Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Libya, coupled with the most regressive region for workers’ representation and union rights.
According to the report, violations are recorded each year from April to March. Each country is analysed against a list of 97 indicators derived from ILO conventions and jurisprudence and represents violations of workers’ rights in law and practice.
The ITUC found 85% of countries violated the right to strike, while 80% violated the right to collectively bargain. The number of countries that impeded the registration of unions has also increased, while Egypt, Honduras and India are all new to the top ten list.
The report found that the number of countries that denied or constrained freedom of speech increased from 54 in 2019 to 56 in 2020, while workers were exposed to violence in 51 countries. Workers had no or restricted access to justice in 72% of countries, and in 61 countries, workers experienced arbitrary arrests and detention.
“These threats to workers, our economies and democracy were endemic in workplaces and countries before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted lives and livelihoods,” says Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the ITUC. “In many countries, the existing repression of unions and the refusal of governments to respect rights and engage in social dialogue has exposed workers to illness and death and left countries unable to fight the pandemic effectively.
“The Global Rights Index exposes a breakdown in the social contract that governments and employers have with working people. There’s a trend to restrict working rights through violations of collective bargaining, withholding the right to strike and excluding workers from unions.
“But the Rights Index is not just a list of violations. It is a stark picture of the rights deficits we need to address as we build the new economic model the world needs as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. It must be a resilient global economy built on a New Social Contract: a new commitment to workers’ rights, renewed investment in compliance and the rule of law, and a foundation of workplace democracy.”
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association did not return request for comment at time of press.