The SOPs for union registration and unfair labour practices were adopted by the Government of Bangladesh in May and July 2017 respectively

The SOPs for union registration and unfair labour practices were adopted by the Government of Bangladesh in May and July 2017 respectively

A workshop in Bangladesh has outlined the importance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) relating to unfair labour practices and trade union registrations.

Aimed at local trade union representatives, the workshop at the Amari Dhaka hotel this week saw some 34 representatives from the National Coordination Council for Workers Education (NCCWE) and the IndustriAll Bangladesh Council (IBC) discuss the SOPs while also providing feedback on their implementation on the ground.

The SOPs for union registration and unfair labour practices were adopted by the Government of Bangladesh in May and July 2017 respectively.

For trade union registration they introduce a standardised procedure with fixed steps and times that offer greater clarity and transparency to the process. Likewise, the SOPs for unfair labour practices include a series of steps from the submission of a written complaint to the Department of Labour to cases ultimately being referred to the Labour Court.

"The SOPs for union registration have now been in place for a number of months and we wish to gain feedback from the trade unions on how they are working," explains Mahandra Naidoo, chief technical advisor of ILO's Social Dialogue and Industrial Relations (SDIR) project. "Standard operating procedures for unfair labour practices and trade union registration will help facilitate freedom of association in Bangladesh. It is vital that the trade union members at all levels understand how they work so that they can make full use of them."

ILO's SDIR project has supported the Government of Bangladesh to develop both sets of SOPs. Running until March 2021, the project is funded by the governments of Sweden and Denmark and implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, employers, and trade unions.

The initiative is developing dialogue mechanisms between employers and workers as a means of preventing and resolving disputes. It is also working to strengthen conciliation and arbitration mechanisms so that they are more credible, trusted and transparent. 

Amongst other activities, the initiative has also backed the process of social dialogue in Bangladesh by providing inputs to the terms of reference for the Tripartite Consultative Committee (TCC) established in May 2017 for the garment sector. The TCC brings together representatives of the government, employers and workers organisations in order to facilitate dialogue between the parties.

"The standard operating procedures and Tripartite Consultative Committee for the garment sector are building blocks upon which social dialogue and improved industrial relations will be built," adds Naidoo. "Putting them into place is a good achievement, however it is vital that they become operationally effective as quickly as possible."