Chapter- 1: Introduction

The garment industry is one of the most globally dispersed of all industries across both
developed and developing countries, with some garment companies having their goods
produced simultaneously in as many as forty countries around the world. It is an
organizationally complex industry, containing elements of both very new and very old
organizational practices, and changing constantly in its organization and geography. As
noted already garment manufacturing has been employed by many LDCs as an engine for
export oriented industrialization and employment creation. The sector has received more
systematic and persistent protection than any other and has been the subject of trade
tensions between developing and developed nations. Trade barriers continue to have a
profound impact on the geography of production and distribution and the possibilities for
incorporation and advancement of LDCs in global chains. Given the relevance of the
specific characteristics and the industrial relations of the industry to our research
problem, these will be discussed broadly.
O Origin of the report:
This report is prepared as partial requirement of the three week collect information. In the
report we have mainly given concentrate on Garments Sector and Global Impact, which
is to be submitted on March 12, 2011. Information has taken from company’s Website,
Internal papers and different Garment oriented books.
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O Objective of the study
The purpose of this report was to gather and present information regarding Bangladesh
Garments Sector and Global Impact. It give us batter opportunity to apply and verify the
knowledge in International Business by learning the theories and methods practically
applied in the Garment Sector.
O Methodology
The analysis draws on a combination of existing surveys, empirical research and
documented literature on export and no export industries in Bangladesh. Most of the data
have been collected from the following surveys. This report was prepared using both
primary and secondary data. Our report is based equally both on primary and secondary
sources of data. The details of these methods are highlighted below:
• Collect information through a survey in BGMEA.
• By searching in the Internet.
• Bangladesh Labor Code.
• Interview from the garments owner.
• Various reports on this purpose.
• Newspaper report.
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O Limitation of study
• The main constraint of the study was inadequate access to information, which has
significantly hampered the scope of the analysis that is required for the study.
• Every organization has their own secrecy, which is not relevant to others. While
collecting data (i.e. questioning the employees), they did not disclose much
information for keeping the organization confidential.
• As the officials were busy with their own duty, they could give me little time for
the consultation.
• Time restriction is another important/ dominant limitation of the study.
• I carried out such kind of study for the first time. So my inexperience was also a
large limitation for the study.
The limited source of primary information and the controlled accessibility of internal
information caused difficulty in reporting facts and giving evidences in this report.
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Chapter -2: The Conceptual Framework of Garments Sector
O Industrial Relations:
The field of industrial relations (also called labor relations) looks at the relationship
between management and workers, particularly groups of workers represented by a
union.Labor relations is an important factor in analyzing "varieties of capitalism", such as
neocorporatism (or corporatism), social democracy, and neoliberalism (or
liberalism).Labor relations can take place on many levels, such as the "shop-floor", the
regional level, and the national level. The distribution of power amongst these levels can
greatly shape the way an economy functions.Another key question when considering
systems of labor relations is their ability to adapt to change. This change can be
technological (e.g., "What do we do when an industry employing half the population
becomes obsolete?"), economic (e.g., "How do we respond to globalization?"), or
political (e.g., "How dependent is the system on a certain party or coalition holding
power?").Governments set the framework for labor relations through legislation and
regulation. Usually, employment law covers issues such as minimum wages and
wrongful dismissal.
According to
¬Dunlop, “ Industrial relations may be defined as the complex of interrelations among
workers, managers and government”
¬ Encyclopedia Britannica, “ Industrial Relations include individual relations and joint
consultation between employees and work people at the place of work, collective
relations among employers, the organizations, the trade unions and the part played by the
state in regulating these relations.”
¬ Biswanath Ghosh, “ Industrial Relations is an art, the art of living together for the
purpose of production.
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OFrom the above dicussion and defination, we find following features of Industrial
O The relation between employers and employees at the plant level.
O The relation among the various unions.
O The relations between employers or their organizations and trade unions at various
levels ( Level of plant, Industry and national level).
O The relations between the employers and the government.
O The relations between the government and the unions.
O Objectives of Industrial Relations:
¹ To establish and maintain congenial labour management relations.
¹ To enhance economic status of the workers.
¹ To avoid industrial conflict and their consequences.
¹To establish and maintain industrial democracy.
¹To provide good working conditions to the workers.
¹ To treat workers as total workers.
¹To develop and encourage trade unions.
¹ To encourage collective bargaining as a means of self-regulation.
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¹To maintain discipline among workers.
O Factors of Industrial Relations
- Governmental factor
× Labor Laws- Government provide labour laws in 1006
× Government policies- Government provide different policies (export and
import policies) which have an impact on IRs.
- Economic factor
× Employment condition- If there is unemployment then what would be he
× Inflation
× Demand for the product
- Political factor
× Political system
× Political parties and their ideology
× What will be the nature o0f he industry depend on political factor
- Technological factor
× Automation – Implementation of new machine many workers may loose
× Change in technology
- Social Factors
× Population
× Religion
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× Custom
O Three Actors of IRs
1) Workers & their Organizations
× Total workers play an important role in IRs.
× Total workers include psychological factors; age working age, educational
age, educational background, family background, and social background.
× What will be the shape of the IRs depend on workers behavior.
× The main purpose of trade unions is to protect the workers’ economic
interest through collective bargaining & by giving pressure on
2) Employers & their Organizations
× Employer plays a crucial factor in industrial relations
× They employs the worker& pays the wages
× Regulates the working relations through various rules, regulations & by
enforcing labour laws
× The difference between the demands of worker & employer results in
industrial conflicts
3) Government
× Government plays a balancing role as a custodian of the nation
× Influences industrial relations through labour laws & other policies
× Regulates the activities & behavior of both employees’ organizations &
employers’ organizations
O Principles of Sound Industrial Relations
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• Recognition of the dignity of the individual & of his right to personal freedom &
equality of opportunity
• Mutual respect, confidence, understanding, acceptance of responsibility on the
part of both employer & workers & their representatives.
Chapter- 3: The Industry Part
O Readymade Garments Sector ( RMG) In Bangladesh:
Garment Industry Large-scale production of readymade garments (RMG) in organized
factories is a relatively new phenomenon in Bangladesh. Until early 60s, individual
tailors made garments as per specifications provided by individual customers who
supplied the fabrics. The domestic market for readymade garment, excepting children
wears and men's knit underwear (genji) was virtually non-existent in Bangladesh until the
60s. Since the late 1970s, the RMG industry started developing in Bangladesh primarily
as an export-oriented industry although; the domestic market for RMG has been
increasing fast due to increase in personal disposable income and change in life style. The
sector rapidly attained high importance in terms of employment, foreign exchange
earnings and its contribution to GDP. In 1999, the industry employed directly more than
1.4 million workers, about 80% of who were female. With the growth of RMG industry,
linkage industries supplying fabrics, yarns, accessories, packaging materials, etc. have
also expanded. In addition, demand for services like transportation, banking, shipping
and insurance has increased. All these have created additional employment. The total
indirect employment created by the RMG industry in Bangladesh is estimated to be some
200,000 workers. In additions to its economic contribution; the expansion of the RMG
industry has caused noticeable social changes by bringing more than 1.12 million women
into labour force. The economic empowerment of these working girls or women has
changed their status in the family. The attractive opportunity of employment has changed
the traditional patriarchal hegemony of the fathers, brothers and husbands. Most working
women or girls can now chose when to get married or become mothers. The number of
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early MARRIAGEs is decreasing; so is the birth rate; and the working girls tend to send their
little bothers and sisters to school, as a result, the literacy rate is increasing. They can
participate in family decision-making. Most importantly, the growth of RMG sector
produced a group of entrepreneurs who have created a strong private sector. Of these
entrepreneurs, a sizeable number is female. A woman entrepreneur established one of the
oldest export-oriented garment factories, the Baishakhi Garment in 1977. Many women
hold top executive positions in RMG industry. The RMG industry is highly dependent on
imported raw materials and accessories because Bangladesh does not have enough
capacity to produce export quality fabrics and accessories. About 90% of woven fabrics
and 60% of knit fabrics are imported to make garments for export. The industry is based
primarily on sub-contracting, under which Bangladeshi entrepreneurs work as sub-
contractors of foreign buyers. It has grown by responding to orders placed by foreign
buyers on C-M (Cut and Make) basis. During its early years, the buyers supplied all the
fabrics and accessories or recommended the sources of supply from which Bangladeshi
sub-contractors were required to import the fabrics. However, situation has improved. At
present, there are many large firms, which do their own sourcing. The hundred percent
export-oriented RMG industry experienced phenomenal growth during the last 15 or so
years. In 1978, there were only 9 export-oriented garment manufacturing units, which
generated export earnings of hardly one million dollar. Some of these units were very
small and produced garments for both domestic and export markets. Four such small and
old units were Reaz Garments, Paris Garments, Jewel Garments and Baishakhi Garments.
Reaz Garments, the pioneer, was established in 1960 as a small tailoring outfit, named
Reaz Store in DHAKA. It served only domestic markets for about 15 years. In 1973 it
changed its name to M/s Reaz Garments Ltd. and expanded its operations into export
market by selling 10,000 pieces of men's shirts worth French Franc 13 million to a Paris-
based firm in 1978. It was the first direct exporter of garments from Bangladesh. Desh
Garments Ltd, the first non-equity joint venture in the garment industry was established
in 1979. Desh had technical and marketing collaboration with Daewoo Corporation of
South Korea. It was also the first hundred percent export-oriented companies. It had
about 120 operators including 3 women trained in South Korea, and with these trained
workers it started its production in early 1980. Another South Korean Firm, Youngones
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Corporation formed the first equity joint-venture garment factory with a Bangladeshi
firm, Trexim Ltd. in 1980. Bangladeshi partners contributed 51% of the equity of thee
new firm, named Youngones Bangladesh. It exported its first consignment of padded and
non-padded jackets to Sweden in December 1980.Within a short period, Bangladeshi
entrepreneurs got familiar with the world apparel markets and marketing. They acquired
the expertise of mobilizing resources to export-oriented RMG industries. Foreign buyers
found Bangladesh an increasingly attractive sourcing place. To take advantage of this
cheap source, foreign buyers extended, in many cases, suppliers' credit under special
arrangements. In some cases, local banks provided part of the equity capital. The problem
of working capital was greatly solved with the introduction of back-to-back letter of
credit, which also facilitated import of quality fabric, the basic raw material of the
industry. The government assigned high priority to the development of RMG industry.
Till the end of 1982, there were only 47 garment manufacturing units. The breakthrough
occurred in 1984-85, when the number of garment factories increased to 587. The
number of RMG factories shot up to around 2,900 in 1999. Bangladesh is now one of the
12 largest apparel exporters of the world, the sixth largest supplier in the US market and
the fifth largest supplier of T-shirts in the EU market. The industry has grown during the
1990s roughly at the rate of 22%. In the past, until 1980, jute and jute goods topped the
list of merchandises exported from Bangladesh and contributed more than 50% of the
total export earnings. By late 1980s, RMG exports replaced jute and jute goods and
became the number one in terms of exports. In 1983-84, RMG exports earned only $0.9
billion, which was 3.89% of the total export earnings of Bangladesh. In 1998-99, the
export earnings of the RMG sector were $5.51 billion, which was 75.67% of the total
export earnings of the country. The net foreign exchange earnings were, however, only
about 30% of the figures quoted above because approximately 70% of foreign exchanges
earned were spent in importing the raw materials and accessories to produce the garments
exported. Both external and internal factors contributed to the phenomenal growth of
RMG sector. One external factor was the application of the GATT-approved Multifibre
Arrangement (MFA) which accelerated international relocation of garment production.
Under MFA, large importers of RMG like USA and Canada imposed quota restrictions,
which limited export of apparels from countries like Hong Kong, South Korea,
Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India to USA and
Canada. On the other hand, application of MFA worked as a blessing for Bangladesh. As
a least developed country, Bangladesh received preferential treatment from the USA and
European Union (EU). Initially Bangladesh was granted quota-free status. To maintain
competitive edge in the world markets, the traditionally large suppliers/producers of
apparels followed a strategy of relocating RMG factories in countries, which were free
from quota restrictions and at the same time had enough trainable cheap labour. They
found Bangladesh as a promising country. So RMG industry grew in Bangladesh. By
1985, Bangladesh emerged as a strong apparel supplier and became a powerful
competitor for traditional suppliers in the US, Canadian and European markets. Since
1986, Bangladesh has been increasingly subjected to quota restrictions by USA and
Canada. RMG industry suffered setback in a number of countries in the 1980s. Some
countries had internal problems, for example, Sri Lanka; and some other countries of
Southeast Asia experienced rapid increase in labour cost. Buyers looked for alternative
sources. Bangladesh was an ideal one as it had both cheap labour and large export quotas.
The EU continued to grant Bangladesh quota-free status and GSP privileges. In addition,
USA and Canada allocated substantially large quotas to Bangladesh. These privileges
guaranteed Bangladesh assured markets for its garments in USA, Canada and EU. The
domestic factor that contributed to the growth of RMG industry was the comparative
advantage Bangladesh enjoyed in garment production because of low labour cost and
availability of almost unlimited number of trainable cheap labour. The domestic policies
of the government contributed to the rapid growth of this sector. The government
provided various kinds of incentives such as duty-free import of fabrics under back-to-
back L/C, bonded warehouse facilities, concessionary rates of interest, cash export
incentive, export processing zone facilities, etc. The government also took a number of
pragmatic steps to streamline export-import formalities. There are several weaknesses of
the RMG industry of Bangladesh. Labour productivity in the RMG sector of Bangladesh
is lower than many of its competitors. Bangladeshi workers are not as efficient as those of
Hong Kong, South Korea and some other countries and in most factories, technologies
used are not the latest. In addition to the fact that the industry is vulnerable because it is
highly dependent on the imported raw materials, the infrastructure in the country is
deplorably underdeveloped. Problems in power supply, transportation and
communication create serious bottlenecks. Inadequate port facilities result in frequent
port congestion, which delays shipment. All these increase the lead-time to process an
order, i.e. the time from the date of receiving an order to the date of shipment. The
application of MFA had negative impact on many garments exporting countries. The
countries, which were adversely affected by quotas under MFA, created pressure to
discontinue MFA by integrating textile and clothing industries into GATT system. As a
result, the Uruguay Round negotiations envisaged the phasing out of MFA by the end of
2004. With the phasing out of MFA, the position of Bangladesh in the world market will
change as all countries including those under quota restrictions, will enjoy quota free
status. Bangladesh will have to compete with a larger number of established and powerful
suppliers of readymade garments. Bangladesh has taken some steps to face the new
challenges. Such steps include removing infrastructural bottlenecks, building additional
supply capacity, use of cost reduction strategy, and increase in value-addition through
backward integration. For RMG sector, the backward linkages are weaving the fabric,
spinning the yarn, and dyeing, printing and finishing operations. These operations can be
combined into one composite mill or they can be established as separate units. Currently,
Bangladeshi apparel exporters import fabrics at international prices using back-to-back
letter of credit. While procuring through back-to-back L/C, the importers (Bangladeshi
exporters of apparels) pay high interest and other charges, commissions, fees for the
services of the middlemen involved. The establishment of composite mills or individual
units of weaving, spinning and processing will reduce lead time and increase value
addition and employment, in addition to improving the cost advantages. In the Fifth Five-
Year Plan (1997-2002), the government of Bangladesh envisages the attainment of self-
sufficiency in yarn production by establishing new spinning capacities. The production
capacity of this sector increased substantially though not as much as was required. There
are 1,126 weaving and spinning mills including 142 ring spinning mills and 15 open-end
spinning units in Bangladesh. These units produce mostly for the domestic markets. Of
the total production of fabric, only 25% are supplied by the modern mills, the rest of the
domestically produced fabrics are supplied by the specialized units, power looms and
handloom sub-sectors. The RMG industry uses a small quantity of fabric woven in the
handloom sub-sector. The domestic capacity meets less than 8% of the demand for
woven fabrics of the export-oriented RMG industry. The domestic production can meet
about 40% of the demand for export quality knit fabrics. The current requirement of yarn
for both domestic and export-oriented RMG industry is about 590 million kg and this will
increase to about 818 million kg by the year 2005. The current requirement for fabrics is
4,400 million meters and by 2005 it will increase to 6,000 million meters. It is estimated
that by 2005 Bangladesh will need 156 spinning mills each with 25,000 spindles, 371
weaving mills each with 125 looms, and 371 dyeing and finishing units each with
capacity of processing 10 million meters of fabrics per annum.The government of
Bangladesh has specified some goals in the latest national development plan for
backward linkage industries. To achieve the goals set in the Fifth Five-Year Plan,
Bangladesh offers attractive incentives to attract both local and foreign direct investment
in RMG sector. The Export Promotion Bureau, in collaboration with the Bangladesh
Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), undertakes various
activities to promote Bangladeshi garments in foreign markets. They also organize annual
Exhibition in Dhaka in which hundreds of foreign buyer’s participate. Bangladesh
exports very limited categories of products. The factories in Bangladesh produce shirts,
jackets, trousers, and other garments, with high concentration (about 60% of the total
apparel exports) in the export of shirts of low price. Bangladesh is the largest exporter of
men's and boys' cotton shirts in the US market. In this market, it competes with India, Sri
Lanka, Mexico and other Central American countries in the lower price segment. The
average price of Bangladesh-made shirts was $62.74 per dozen in 1998. This price was
the second lowest. The Dominican Republic sold the lowest priced shirts of the same
category at $54.79 per dozen. Prices of Indian, Mexican and Sri Lankan shirts were
$81.04, $76.26 and $74.77 respectively. Against this, the prices of Hong Kong and
Malaysia shirts were $107.34 and $134.08 respectively. Exporters from Bangladesh
produce mostly those items on which quotas are available. However, there are a few
exceptions. Some South Korean firms operating from Export Processing Zones of Dhaka
and Chittagong export padded jacket and trousers of higher value. Many firms now
export some non-quota items as well. The share of such items in the total quantity,
however, is very small. Recently, export of knitwear and sweaters has increased faster
than that of woven wears. These indicate that Bangladesh is actively engaged in the
process of product diversification. Although Bangladesh exports garments to some 30
countries, its exports are highly concentrated in two major markets, the USA and EU.
The USA as the largest importer country imported 43.24% of total garments exported
from Bangladesh in 1998-99. Bangladesh was the sixth largest supplier of apparels in the
US markets in the same year. However, if European Union is considered as a single
market, the US market becomes the second largest. Bangladesh exported 52.38% of its
apparel exports to the EU in 1998-99. The EU is the single most important destination of
knitwear export from Bangladesh. Of the individual members of the EU, Germany is the
largest importer of both woven RMG (15.6%) and knit wears (14.8%) from Bangladesh
and the UK and France follow it. The EU as a bloc has been importing from Bangladesh
an increasing quantity of apparels. In the last five years Bangladesh's exports to the EU
have grown by 174%. The main reason for this phenomenal growth is the almost duty
free (due to GSP privileges) and quota-free access to this market. Other export markets
are small. Japan and ASEAN countries are potentially large markets. Bangladesh has not
yet been able to export sizeable quantity of apparels to Japan, although it imports about
90% of the machinery from Japan to run the apparel industry. Similarly, Bangladesh has
not been able to have market access to ASEAN, or Indian markets although it imports a
huge quantity of fabrics and yarn from these countries. The main reasons for this are the
tariff and non-tariff barriers Bangladesh faces in these markets. Recently, Bangladesh has
started exporting to India, South Korea and other new markets. As a member of South
Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bangladesh has undertaken an
elaborate programmed to increase apparel exports to India and other member countries of
SAARC. Bangladesh responded positively to the international requirement of elimination
of child labour from the garments sector. Under the Memorandum of Understanding
jointly signed by BGMEA, ILO, UNICEF and US Embassy, Dhaka on 4 July 1994,
Bangladesh pledged to eliminate child labour by November 1996. Accordingly, it took
necessary measures to do so. The laid-off children were provided financial support so that
they could attend schools until they attain the age of 15. BGMEA and some NGOs jointly
operate a number of schools for these children. The factory owners are required to abide
by the laws that regulate minimum wages, working conditions, eco-labeling, etc of the
garment factory workers. The workers are allowed to form and/or join trade unions.
There are many active trade unions with CBAs in the garment industry. But factories
located in the Export Processing Zones do not have trade unions. However, the workers
of those factories receive higher remuneration and better benefit packages. To meet the
international standard, the industry with the help of BGMEA makes sure that the factories
do not use any dyes including Azu dye that are hazardous to health. Bangladesh
recognizes the fact that its economic security depends on the future of its RMG industry.
Therefore, it has undertaken an elaborate programmed to meet the challenges it is likely
to face in the post-MFA world market
O I mportance of RMG Exports in Bangladesh
• Textile Sector as a whole plays an important role in the economic life of
• The sector contributes 38% industrial value addition.
• Earns around 78% of total export earnings.
• Employs around 4.5 million workforce of which majority is women
• Generates huge cliental base for Banking, Insurance, Shipping,
• Transport, Hotel, Cosmetics, Toiletries and related other economic activities.
• Provides indirect employment to 0.80 million workforces in accessories industries
related to garments.
• Provides 0.2 million job to waste recycle industry related to RMG sub-sector.
• Contributes 10.50% to GDP through RMG sub-sector.
The market share of Bangladesh apparels can be seen from this table (2003-04)
(Value in US $Mn)
Country Total RMG
RMG import
from BD
% Share of BD
EU 74150 3651.81 4.92
US 66400 1628.29 2.45
Canada 3700 256.40 6.93
Japan 19700 19.79 0.01
Hong Kong 1700 6.59 0.39
Korea 900 3.15 0.35
Others 32350 119.76 0.37
Total 198900 5686.09 2.86
Bangladesh achieved a phenomenal growth in Readymade Garments exports, which
is evident from the table below:
(Value in US $Mn)
Year Total Export RMG Export % Of RMG to
total Export
1995-96 3882.00 2547.13 65.61
1996-97 4418.28 3001.25 64.93
1997-98 5161.20 3781.94 73.28
1998-99 5312.86 4019.98 75.67
1999-00 5752.19 4352.39 75.66
2000-01 6467.30 4860.12 75.15
2001-02 5986.09 4583.80 76.57
2002-03 6548.44 4912.10 75.01
2003-04 7602.99 5686.08 74.79
2004-05 6097.12 4734.14 77.65
From these tables we can understand that RMG sector in Bangladesh is very much
important because from export we can reserve foreign currency and RMG product is the
major export goods. So to increase the foreign currency reserve we need to increase the
productivity of RMG products.
Now we will see the comparisons of RMG exports and Total exports from year 19984 to
2006. And we will observe how RMG export increase year to year and have a good
impact in our economy.
O Functional Requirements for Sound Industrial Relations in RMG Sector
O History of Good Industrial Relations:
A good Industrial Relations mean harmonious relationship between the management and
workers. On the other hand, a bad history is characterized by militant strikes and
lockouts. Both have perpetuating tendency that does not mean that they cannot change
their attitude. The probability of conflict is greater when conflict has been accepted as
normal. The probability of peaceful relations is greater when mutual understanding is
expected to continue as a part of standard operation.
In our country, there is a bad history of Industrial relations, because we see that
frequently strike is there, and we also see that, workers not get a safety environment and
not get minimum wages.
Year RMG exports
(in million US$)
Total exports
(in million US$)
RMG exports as
% of total exports
1984 32 811 3.9
1990 624 1,924 32.5
1995 2,228 3,473 64.2
2000 4,349 5,752 75.6
2006 7,901 10,526 75.1

In the previous information of the RMG Sector, we see that type of scenario; On the
morning of Monday, 22 May, 2008 at Savar Export Processing Zone (EPZ), a suburb of
Dhaka, workers at Universal Garments Limited gathered in front of the factory to demand
payment of 3 months owed back wages. They were attacked by factory security staff. In
response the workers went to neighboring factories and called out other garment workers
for support. The growing group of workers then went from factory to factory calling on
other workers to join them; 20,000 workers are reported to have joined this angry
procession. By the afternoon hundreds of other factories in Savar EPZ and New EPZ had
joined the strikes . Two factories were torched and 100s more ransacked, over 300
hundred company and management vehicles wrecked. The main roads going through
Dhaka were blocked. Eventually the clashes with police escalated and the cops responded
with bullets. The news of the escalation spread among the workplaces and drew out most
other workers into participating. Regrettably, a significant number of readymade garment
factories do not even pay the minimum wage of Tk 1, 662.50, let alone overtime bills. In
June 2007 the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association released
the report of a survey, amid much fanfare, claiming almost 83% of its member factories
go by the minimum wage stipulation. However, subsequent surveys by labour rights and
research organizations revealed a dramatically different scenario. Karmojibi Nari, a
women and labour rights organization, carried a survey, also in June, and found out that
out of the 55 factories surveyed in and around Dhaka only three had wage structures
similar to or higher than the stipulated scale. Another survey by the Garment Sramik
Oikya Forum, the findings of which were reported in the Bangla daily Prothom Alo,
revealed that only 10 per cent of the factories in Mirpur and Pallabi areas abided by the
minimum wage structure. Among factories at Adabor and Mohammadpur the proportion
was an even lower five per cent.
So, we see that strike is there and an employers-employees relation of the RMG sector of
Bangladesh is not good.
O Economic Satisfaction of workers:
The conspiracy theory of external forces instigating garment workers into agitation
resurfaced recently as thousands took to the streets at Mirpur in the capital. Such theories,
almost always spun off by owners of readymade garment factories, indicate that they are
in a state of denial about severe problems vis-à-vis compensation and facilities for
workers. The demands of the workers agitating at Mirpur were rightful, rational and
indeed justified, as they had been on previous occasions. They demanded such basic
provisions as payment of wages within the first week of every month, regular payment of
overtime and institution of weekly holiday. Workers have had to stage mass
demonstrations before demanding festival allowances and festival leaves. That the
management of certain factories settled these issues in the past only in the face of
workers' unrest, through mediation by third parties and in the presence of law enforcer
only point to the extent of workers' exploitation. More often than not, workers do not
even demand payment of overtime with monthly ages; they just want assurance that they
will be paid for working overtime. A large number of companies enforce workdays much
longer than the standard eight hours, as stipulated by labour laws. Regrettably, a
significant number of readymade garment factories do not even pay the minimum wage
of Tk 1, 662.50, let alone overtime bills. In June 2007 the Bangladesh Garment
Manufacturers and Exporters Association released the report of a survey, amid much
fanfare, claiming almost 83 per cent of its member factories go by the minimum wage
stipulation. However, subsequent surveys by labour rights and research organizations
revealed a dramatically different scenario. Karmojibi Nari, a women and labour rights
organization, carried a survey, also in June, and found out that out of the 55 factories
surveyed in and around Dhaka only three had wage structures similar to or higher than
the stipulated scale. Another survey by the Garment Sramik Oikya Forum, the findings of
which were reported in the Bangla daily Prothom Alo, revealed that only 10 per cent of
the factories in Mirpur and Pallabi areas abided by the minimum wage structure. Among
factories at Adabor and Mohammadpur the proportion was an even lower five per cent.
These findings are naturally disputed and contested by the owners association on the
ground of 'unrepresentative' sample size, as its own survey included some 2,420 factories.
According to a recent survey of 1,000 factories across Bangladesh, the minimum wage
was fully implemented by only 28 per cent of the factories. But minimum wage is only
part of the labour rights and just one of the ten points of the tripartite agreement that was
struck by the owners, workers and the government following the violent demonstrations
by garment workers in May 2006. The ten-point agreement stipulated that owners pay
wages within the first week of the months along with overtime. It also stipulated that
factories would have one weekly holiday, ensure good working conditions besides the
provision of maternity leave, identity cards and appointment letters. According to the
survey on 1,000 factories, based on focus group discussions with employees of those
establishments, 75.7 per cent do not provide appointment letters; 42.2 per cent factories
do not provide identity cards; 3.3 per cent still do not have a weekly holiday while in
another 21.9 per cent it is irregularly given. Also, 44.4 per cent do not observe
government holidays and 42.2 per cent do not provide any earned leave. The provision of
a fully paid maternity leave of three months is still a far cry. As for working hours, 90.4
per cent factories have more than 8-hour workdays but only 29.4 per cent pay proper
overtime, while 68.1 per cent of the factories do not pay wages by the first week of the
month. Among the major apparel manufacturers of the world, Bangladesh has one of the
lowest wage structures. The garment workers in Bangladesh are paid less than their
counterparts in China, India, Pakistan and Nepal. Even countries like Togo and Benin
have a higher wage structure than their Bangladeshi counterparts. An obvious result of
such exploitation is that Bangladeshi manufacturers have failed to move up the value
addition chain for which they require skilled human resources for which better working
environment and better compensation packages are imperative. In this respect worker
retention must be stable and at a tolerable level, which the factory management must
ensure before trying to train its workforce and move on to value added and higher end
products in the apparel industry. Despite being in the field Bangladeshi manufacturers
still rely on a handful of items that are typically low-end, high-volume, low-cost items
like trousers, T-shirts and shirts. The terms of trade for such items are bound to remain
adverse, as any other new entrant in the market would start off with these products. To
help the garment exporters and allow them to remain competitive despite the ever-
deteriorating terms of trade, successive governments, including the current military-
controlled interim regime, have ensured that the value of taka against dollar remains
devalued at such levels so as to lure foreign buyers. In the process, however, it has
resulted in a strong backlash by way of costlier imports which in recent times have soared
due to the increasing international prices of fuel and food. That burden is borne by the
general masses, as every citizen has had to suffer from the price spiral of the two
imported items. In other words then, the entire country, even their employees, contribute
to their profit by paying ever more for fuel or food. Besides, the government has also
provided these exporters with a number of tangible and intangible benefits including
back-to-back letters of credit and cash incentives. The owners and manufacturers have on
their part showed a sense of utmost irresponsibility by not investing time and money in
higher and more value-added products or ensuring a reasonable compensation package
for workers on their own volition. Instead the manufacturers and exporters association
continue to lament their state and demand even more cooperation from the government.
The owners on their part seldom consider the input of labour as part of the production
cost. The prices of machinery, cost of land and the establishment, yarn and cloth and
other accessories are, however, factored in to assess profitability. The only input – and
perhaps the most valuable part of the entire process that adds most value to the entire
production of apparels – within Bangladesh is ignored. That it is ignored is evident from
the statement of garment factory owners often claiming that after paying the minimum
wages in full there is nothing left as profit. Consciously or not, they prove that labour
exploitation equals profit. The recent protests saw an ominous emergence of a rumor that
the management was concealing the body of a worker at a certain garment factory.
According to reports, such rumors were spread by through cell phones among workers
already out on the streets that created further frenzy among the workers. It was not for the
first time that such rumors have surfaced and proven wrong. The possibility of outside
forces instigating the workers to create unrest and tarnish the image of the industry
cannot be ruled out entirely. The suggestion of instigation becomes all the more plausible
when trends suggest that labour unrest directly benefits the competing countries. As
companies fail to deliver within time, having to cope with workers' discontent, foreign
buyers switch to manufacturers in other countries. The rumor of a non-existent dead body
understandably fanning the fury of garment workers already on the streets has become
ominously recurring. Firstly, it must be pointed out that the potency of a conspiracy or
instigation from outside forces hinges on the working environment of individual
factories. If there is substantial labour discontent due to non-payment of wages or
absence of other basic provisions, which there is, the situation becomes all the more ripe
for conspirators to succeed. Secondly, silly rumors of dead bodies being concealed by
certain factory authorities would not hold if there were credible labour unions in the
garment industry, which also happens to be one of the points in the tripartite agreement.
Credible labour unions, which the owners actively discourage by either summary
dismissals or other means, would also provide the owners with an effective avenue to
carry out negotiations in case of mass protest or discontent.
Trade unions, as has been pointed out by different quarters, are necessary for healthy
industrial relations that would help the industry survive and take it forward into becoming
a truly global player. As workers become more aware of their rights and privileges, the
requirement for their unions will become all the more pressing and evident, which the
factory management would do well to initiate by themselves for their own sake as well as
the country's sake. Given that the garment sector fetches three-fourths of the countries
export earnings, all quarters including the owners and the government should come
forward to ensure its sustainability that must begin with workers' welfare, as they are the
principal actors. Instead the law enforcers lodged cases last week against workers and
heads of certain non-governmental organizations, which are essentially labour leaders, for
instigating workers and violating the state of emergency. By doing so another potential
avenue for negotiations has been closed off, since many of these non-governmental
organizations act as proxy labour unions in the absence of formal ones. Indeed the
garment workers' representative on the committee that negotiated the minimum wage was
also such a person from a non-governmental organization but essentially a labour leader.
To conclude with a harrowing statistic, in about 15 years over 300 garment workers have
burned to death with over 2,000 injured, some whom were crippled for life. In most cases
the reason had been either that the main entrance was locked or that there was no fire
exit. Till date not a single garment factory owner has been prosecuted by the state for this
abject negligence. The state's overt bias towards the moneyed, protecting the garment
factory owners, citing emergency power rules, discipline and damage to private property,
would hardly benefit the overall condition of the industry or improve its competitiveness
in the long run. It is foolish, shameful and imprudent, from a regime that intends to
establish the rule of law and equitable justice, especially when it is the owners who are
the principal offenders and violators of law and not the workers. A half of the garment
factory owners did not pay the festival allowance to workers till Thursday evening, a
deadline set by the government to pay the workers their wages and the allowance, despite
monitoring by law enforcement agencies and the owners’ association.
Workers at many factories in the capital city and on its outskirts went out on
demonstrations and did not join work, demanding the payment of wages, dues in arrears
and the festival allowance on Thursday. The workers blocked roads at places in Gazipur
to push for the payment of their dues and the festival allowance. The blockades caused
severe traffic congestion. The supervision by the law enforcement agencies and the
association leaders could only ensure the payment of wages. But the festival allowance
remained unpaid in about a half of the factories. The monitoring, however, could only
ensure the payment of monthly wages to the workers, who earn about 77 per cent of the
total export earnings. But labour leaders estimated that a half of the factories had not paid
the festival allowance this year. The Garment Workers’ Unity Forum president, Mushrefa
Mishu, said, ‘Workers of at least two-thirds of the garment factories have not received the
festival allowance. ‘The workers at the Abarani Garments Limited at Shewrapara, Sky
Heart Apparels at Mirpur, Fashion Toy at Ashulia, Union Apparels in Narayanganj, Joya
Apparels at Kanchpur, Sattar Garments at Uttara, and Fame Shirts Limited at Uttara went
out on demonstrations to push for the payment. The leaders of the Bangladesh Garment
Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers
and Exporters’ Association, high local administration officials, leaders of the workers and
the owners later held meetings and the workers were given their wages, but not the
festival allowance. In Gazipur, the workers of the UTA Fashions at Salna went out on
demonstrations in the morning to push for the payment of the festival allowance.
The workers at about 10:00am took to the streets and blocked the Dhaka–Mymensingh
Highway. Several hundred vehicles remained stranded on both ends of the road.
The police and the Rapid Action Battalion controlled the situation at about 11:30am.
The workers of the Joint Fashions and the Six H Garments at Tongi took to the streets
and blocked the Dhaka–Mymensingh Highway at about 1:00pm. They demanded their
wages in arrears and the festival allowance. The law enforcement agencies tackled the
situation at about 2:30pm after meetings with the garment authorities. The congestion
continued into the evening. The chief inspector of factories, ASM Serajuddin, however,
expressed his satisfaction about the payments.’ We are pleased to see that the situation
has improved a lot regarding the payment of workers, especially wages, before Eid,’ he
told New Age on Thursday. As for non-payment of the festival allowance in a significant
number of factories as reported by labour leaders, he said, ‘Let us hope that the owners
pay all the dues to the workers in future.’Nazma Aktar, the president of a workers’ group
named Awaz Foundation, said most owners had paid wages, but not the festival
allowance, before Eid.Shirin Akter, the president of Karmajibi Nari, a watchdog of
workers’ rights, said their teams had found the payment of wages before Eid to be
satisfactory. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association
president, Anwar Ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez, said the payment of wages before Eid this
year was satisfactory.The association assigned the directors on its board to monitor Eid
payment and settle related disputes. The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and
Exporters’ Association president, AKM Fazlul Hoque, said, ‘There is not a single
BKMEA member which has not paid the workers the wages of September.’ But he said at
least one-fourth of the factories could not pay the festival allowance.
Sources said government agencies were active in monitoring the payment of dues and
allowances to workers before Eid. ‘Intelligence agencies kept watch against payment
related disputes and law enforcers brokered negotiations with the factory managements
for wages before Eid,’ a high Rapid Action Battalion official told New Age.
The labour adviser, Anwarul Iqbal, at a meeting on Tuesday warned the factory owners
of legal action in case of non-payment of wages and the festival allowance.
He also asked the workers not to go on the rampage in such cases and advised them to
wait for negotiations between lawmen and factory owners. The meeting was told that
intelligence agencies had listed about 100 factories in Dhaka, 83 in Gazipur, and 31 in
Narayanganj where unrest might take place over the non-payment of dues and the festival
allowance before Eid.
O Social and Psychological satisfaction:
Identifying the social and psychological needs of workers is very important step to
determine the good industrial relations. It has been reveled by the Hawthorne
Experiments that a man has several other needs besides his physical needs. Employment
relationships are not only an economic contract; supportive climate is more required than
economic rewards. The supportive climate of organizations is essentially built around
social and psychological rewards. Workers participation in management, job enrichment,
suggestion schemes, redressal of grievances, effective two ways communication are some
of social and psychological rewards. When we see the research paper of different
expertise, the present situation of RMG sector regarding social and psychological
perspective is not good, worker’s participation is not there, worker’s not get chance to
raise up there voice regarding wages, or any surrounding physical environment. When we
see that, workers are happy if she/he get proper environment to done their jobs, but we
see that supervisor’s behavior is not satisfactory level, when supervisors deal with the
employees. So, ultimately we see the workers are not psychologically satisfied; another
things is that most of the RMG sector in Bangladesh not maintain to give minimum
wages to the workers, so workers not maintain their minimum social status because due
to the increasing inflation rate is high, so worker are not capable to buy their necessary
things of this wages. So, ultimately social satisfaction is not their in RMG sector in
O Off the Job Conditions:
For good IRs it is not enough that the workers factory life alone should be taken care of.
His home life is not totally separable from his work life and his emotional condition.
Each affects the others. For these reason workers off the job conditions should also be
improved. Through the readings of different papers, we see that; minimum wages is not
provided most of the garments in Bangladesh. So, they are not capable to meet up their
family demands, so ultimately their family members are not satisfied. This impact is
creating big influence on the performance of the workers, as its affect there attitude
towards the job (Motivation is declined). So, frequently strike is happen.
O Enlightened Labour Unions:
Strong and enlightened labour movement can help to promote the status of labour without
hampering the interest of management. Labour unions always talk much of the
employer’s obligations to the workers but say very little about the workers responsibility
to the employers. For our thinking on different database we see that-
○ Predatory Unions: The characteristics of this type of union are
that, non ideological perspective is there. There set of mental.
tendency is always greedy type.
○ Self- seeking Leadership: Majority of union leaders at all
levels (At plant, Industrial and national) are concerned with self
In this point of view, Trade union activities are not satisfactory level in the perspective of
RMG sector in Bangladesh because proper utilization of leadership capability is not
there. The leaders of the trade unions should have proper educational background, so that
they can understand what are their rights as well as responsibilities, while they negotiate
for their workers to the perspective of problems facing regarding RMG sectors in
O Negotiating skills of management and workers:
Good industrial relations depend on the ability of employers, organizations and trade
unions to deal with their mutual problems freely, independently and with responsibility.
From the perspective of different literature it is clearly identified in the RMG sector in
Bangladesh, there is a involvement of weakness of different trade union activities and
finally we see that workers do not get chance to give their opinions independently
regarding their wages, physical environment, psychological conditions and their health
and hygiene, so we easily understand negotiation skills of management and workers is
really poor in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. The educational backgrounds of the trade
union leaders are not satisfactory that reduces the chance for a better solution.
O Urge on the part of employers:
Good industrial relations depend on the realizations and urges on the part of employers
for the promotion of their workers welfare. From the different scenario of the RMG
sector in Bangladesh, we find out that employers are not interested regarding workers
welfare because most of the cases they are not properly give the wages and other
facilities of workers. Think of this scenario we can easily understand willingness of give
and take perspective is absent most of the RMG sector in Bangladesh
O Genuine sympathy of the public:
Good IRS depends on the genuine sympathy of the general public towards labour.
Sometimes we see that very small portion of columnists, write regarding the different
problems of the workers such as wages, physical conditions, working environment,
psychological satisfaction, trade union activities, employers unethical decisions and so
O Public policy and Legislation:
Government becomes a third major force in determining IRS. It regulates the behaviors
of both labour and management. In our country we see that Government regulates the
laws and policies to proper maintaining industrial relations of the RMG sector in
Bangladesh but many of the cases implementation is not there and Government not
enforce to maintain the rules and laws to the employers. That means there is not
monitoring mapping is there.
O Better Education:
Better education provides proper sense of responsibility and thus they will be less
influenced by outside forces. When we see that different conflicts in the RMG sector in
Bangladesh that most of the cases conflict is happen because of the lack of education of
the workers.
O Collective Bargaining:
Collective Bargaining is the cornerstone of good industrial relations through the
assistances of appropriate Government agencies might be necessary in public interest. We
know that collective bargaining is the negotiation of different parties but in the actual
scenario of the RMG sector in Bangladesh that there is a poor understanding of
relationship between the workers and the employers, so proper negotiations is absent.
O RMG in Bangladesh: Wake up call and the ground realities:
Recent violence in RMG sector has really given all of us a stern wake up call. What
really started to be an isolated dispute between the management and laborers of a single
garment factory, spread out like a fire across hundreds of factories. As a result of this
massive outburst, nearly 300 factories, including 21 factories in the Savar Export
Processing Zone (EPZ), were damaged or partially damaged. The total loss of the
garment industry was around Tk 4 billion (nearly $70 million). Many global buyers have
already communicated to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters
Association (BGMEA) that it would not be possible for them to give export orders any
more unless the present situation improves or in any way the supply is impacted during
the peak season. Conspiracy, professional jealousy, and sabotage whatever we term the
incident, first we have to understand the ground realities prevailing in the RMG industry.
Let us look at this most vital industry in our economy to have a thorough understanding
of the situation. The country entered the export market of apparels in 1978 with only 9
units and earned only $0.069 million. During the last two decades this sector has
achieved a phenomenal growth, due to policy support of the government and dynamism
of the private sector entrepreneurs. Now the number of RMG units is around 4,000 and
the export earnings have reached at $6.40 billion. Now in Bangladesh, 2 million garment
workers are working in the RMG units, of whom 80 per cent are women. RMG roughly
covers 76 per cent of the total export of the country and is the highest earning industry in
the economy. 2 million workers in 4,000 factories, which is about one-fourth of the
number of employees engaged in the manufacturing sector, constitute the real backbone
of the country's economy. Study shows that the RMG sector and related upstream and
downstream activities are estimated to contribute an income of about $ 5.0 billion which
is equivalent to about 9 per cent of Bangladesh's current GDP. Comparatively, over the
same period Bangladesh's net disbursement of aid was to the tune of only about $ 800
million. Thus, RMG sector's contribution to Bangladesh's balance of payments and
foreign exchange reserves also cannot be understated. Against all these achievements, we
just cannot also overlook the major issues and problems facing the industry, especially
the RMG workers. The common identified problems on part of the RMG workers are low
wage, irregular payment, forceful overtime, bad working environment, physical and
sexual harassment, termination etc. Low wages have traditionally been a major strength
of Bangladesh's labor-intensive apparels sector. The hourly wage rate in Bangladesh's
apparels sector is lower than those in China and Sri Lanka (US$ 0.39 as compared to US$
0.69 and US$ 0.48 respectively); however, wage rate of other competitors such as
Pakistan and India are somewhat similar to Bangladesh's, being $ 0.41 and $ 0.38
respectively (USITC, 2004). According to unofficial sources, only a few owners of
garment factories pay the monthly wages and overtime bills to their workers in time and
look after the welfare of the workers. In most of the factories, the owners deliberately
keep at least two months' salary and overtime bills of the workers in arrear. The
management does hiring and firing of workers randomly and retrenched workers, in most
cases, are not paid their dues. Further in absence of weekly holiday the workers; their
families and their children are all being severely affected both mentally and physically.
Most garment factories in Bangladesh have no minimum safety measures, not even the
required number of fire extinguishers. Some 227 garment factories in Dhaka alone do not
have emergency exits. Most factories do not conduct the required monthly evacuation
drills. According to unofficial sources, nearly 300 workers were killed and 2000 others
injured in fire incidents in garment factories across the country since 1990. Some of the
victims were burnt alive and others died either from suffocation or in stampede. Most of
the RMG factories do not have any special reproductive health care for women workers
to safeguard the motherhood. Due to absence of such healthcare along with congested
and suffocating working environment, the trend of producing physically disabled babies
is reportedly increasing. One may raise a valid question: why should there be frequent
fire incidents in garment factories alone when there are hundreds of other factories across
the country? The answer is not that difficult to find. Most of the garment factories are
housed in rented premises at commercial or residential areas. These buildings have not
been built to accommodate factories having all the safety measures. According to
national labour studies, there are only five inspectors for the entire industry -- the same
number as in the 1970s, when the industry first sprouted. According to unofficial sources,
90 per cent of all garment factories in Bangladesh lack proper industrial approval.
Thousands of buildings escape scrutiny because the building inspection system is as old
and decrepit as the buildings themselves. Many issues concerning the Bangladesh RMG
surfaced from time to time, the first being the child labour issue. An influential US labour
organization forced the government and the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and
Exporters Association (BGMEA) to address the child labour issue. They had to phase-out
child labour from RMG units and create facilities for their rehabilitation and schooling.
There is no denying that employers do enjoy upper hand in Bangladesh labour market
where every third person is either unemployed or under-employed. But for the sake of
better and quality output, the owners themselves need to be more aware of keeping their
workforce satisfied by providing them with reasonable pay and ensuring other basic
necessities. It goes below the dignity of any nation if the outsiders force its factory
owners to comply with their own demand relating to better wages and freedom of
associations for the workers and improved working conditions in the workplace. In
perspective of all this, we have to evaluate the situation with clear responsibility and
judiciously. There is no way that the leaders of the RMG industry ignore the grievances
of the workers. They can no longer afford to refrain from investing in the welfare of their
workers and workplace. They would have to immediately look into some critical issues.
A barrier to change in the Bangladesh RMG industry is the lack of understanding of
global pressures to improve labour standards among middle management. There is a need
for rigorous training on industrial relations, human resource management, factory
management, disaster management and continuity of business at the supervisory level to
build more educated manpower instead of skilled one. More emphasis on gender issues is
needed, as RMG sector middle management is predominantly female. The absence of
hard evidence about the links between implementing core labour standards and increased
profitability makes it difficult to establish the business case in support of improved labour
standards. Most of the RMG units in Bangladesh are owner driven rather than process
driven. This culture needs to be changed. There should be a listening culture in place,
which will help to identify the opportunities as well as to foresee the imminent crisis.
While the garment leaders readily acknowledge the necessity of solving these problems,
the reality is that all these problems cannot be solved overnight, even with all the good
intention. Here, we believe that the labour leaders have very strong and far-reaching roles
to play. While it is extremely necessary for them to vehemently argue for the cause of the
workers, they also must realize that violence in the name of protest will not solve the
workers' problem. Destruction of the property, arson and discontinuation of operation
will severely affect the industry as a whole. And the decline of the garments industry will
only aggravate the misery of the workers' plight. Their pragmatic leadership can save the
country from an over all jeopardy. All of us must realize that the current crisis in RMG
sector is not something isolated from the over all socio-economic problems. Like
everywhere else, there is huge a 'Trust Gap'. The owners and the laborers cannot build
enough confidence among themselves to have an equitable solution to the problem. Both
the parties must realize, that they have bigger interest at stake to protect the industry.
Violence, coercion or anything imposed forcefully will not solve the problems. All the
parties must come into an equitable solution keeping in mind the bigger interest of the
economy. RMG sector in Bangladesh has come a long way in last two decades. The
industry has crossed many hurdles to stay competitive. It has proved many predictions
futile and wrong, and compete fiercely even after the abolition of quota. The credit for
that achievement goes to both the entrepreneurs and the laborers. Taking that fighting
spirit ahead, the RMG sector must formulate an equitable solution for all the involved
parties and ensure brighter future for the country as a whole. The near term reality for a
country like Bangladesh remains to be competitive through cheap labour, unless we can
improve our infrastructure and fix the domestic economy dramatically as well as manage
a shift to quality through better productivity and efficiency. Some of the garments
owners'(especially the EPZ ones) has recognized the hard realities and managing the
transition well. The others have to take it or leave it. These `others' also include workers,
policy planners and civil society members.
O Causes of poor Industrial Relations in Bangladesh:
Government action in support of globalization has to rely on policy planning and delivery
services provided by the public and public sector. This sector has to be restructured to
meet the demands of, or overcome problems arising from, globalization (e.g., demands
from MNC's and domestic firms for less "red tape"; and the problem of enterprises
having to rely on inefficient public enterprises for provision of basic services). In this
regard, Ministries of Labour often have a narrow and reactive role. Given the importance
of industrial relations to economic development, they should be working more actively
with planning and finance Ministries to generate development options, create more
coherent and coordinated strategies and, generally, improve public and public sector
efficiency. There is also a need for governments to include trade unions in any public
sector and public sector reform process and take account of their major concerns.
Finally, governments should continue to promote bipartite and tripartite institutions and
processes to establish appropriate labour policy and standards. Inputs from all relevant
parties should be considered. Not only will this limit potential conflict in the future, but
(particularly where major business and investment interests - including those of MNC's -
are involved) it should establish a sound basis for investment and economic and
employment growth.
 Compliance of the RMG Sector of Bangladesh:
Compliance in the Ready Made Garments (RMG) sector is broadly defined by standard
building-structure of factories, working condition, various rights of workers, workers'
health and safety measures, and environmental safety measures etc. Maintaining
compliance standard has gradually been considered as one of the important factors for
competitiveness in the global apparel market. It is found that buyers are putting more
emphasis on compliance standard as consumers of developed countries are becoming
increasingly concerned about work and social environment in the sourcing factories.
Bangladesh's apparel sector has emerged in early 1980s. The sector has developed
overtime under various incentives and supports provided by the government and market
access provided by different developed countries. It is also true that government
maintained a 'soft look' policy as regards compliance standard during the early stage of
development of apparel sector; besides, buyers put less emphasis on high level of
compliance standard of RMG units. Factory level compliance standard has got much
attention since the mid-1990s as buyers have started to put emphasis on different issues
related with compliance. Subsequently, enterprises have initiated to improve the
compliance standard of the factories. However, factory level compliance standard has not
developed to that extent as it should be during the last twenty five years. It is now
important to appreciate status of the compliance standard of RMG units, especially after
the MFA phase out in a competitive world market. One of the major limitations as
regards compliance standard of RMG units of Bangladesh is lack of available information
which hinders any sort of assessment of compliance standard in the country.
Consequently, it is rather difficult to suggest various policies for the development of
compliances in the RMG units. Recently, BGMEA and BKMEA have initiated to
develop a database on the compliance standard of RMG units, which is a welcome
initiative. However, by and large there is dearth of information as regards the compliance
standard of RMG units. This paper attempts to highlight on current state of compliance in
the RMG units based on the data of collected through firm level survey in 2006. A total
of 190 factories were surveyed comprising of 63 woven, 63 knit and 26 sweater units.
Besides, 470 workers of these enterprises were also surveyed. Present paper draws
heavily on CPD's recent study on “Bangladesh's Apparel Sector in Post-MFA Period: A
Study on the Ongoing Restructuring Process”.
Finally if we observe the real conditions of the RMG sector in Bangladesh, then the
following findings observe on various policy measures for the improvement of
compliance standard of RMG units.
 Factory Level Compliance Standard: Ergonomic Balance:
Factory level ergonomics indicate appropriate balance between factory space, installed
machines and workers. This refers to size of floor space available for doing work, ratio
between floor space and number of workers, workers and machines used workers and
production lines, adequacy of air and light inside the factory, etc. Floor space available
for working in the surveyed factories was, on average, about 50,000 sq ft, while spaces
for setting up a production line was about 6128 sq ft. Available space for each worker on
average was 52 sq. ft. It appears that large and medium enterprises provided relatively
more space for setting up production lines and for workers working in the factory.
Average worker-machine ratio was 1.74, indicating that every operator of a machine took
support of 0.74 additional workers (usually these workers are called 'helpers').
Enterprises, directly dealt with buyers, (which also tended to be large and medium
enterprises) were operated by higher number of workers in production lines and also
provided higher space to the workers. In other words, ergonomic standard was better in
enterprises, which worked directly with buyers. A majority of large enterprises were
purpose-built, while the proportion of such enterprises in the case of medium and small
units was relatively low. Factories established in earlier periods were behind in terms of
complying with factory level compliance standards, perhaps because of government's
“soft look” towards apparel sector in the earlier stage of its development when these
standards requirements were either mildly dealt or overlooked by concerned offices. In
general, factories established in more recent periods were relatively better compliant in
terms of factory standards.
 Worker's Job-related Compliance Standard:
Factory management, in most of the cases, checked the minimum age of workers that
they were recruiting. It appeared from the survey that entrepreneurs are very strict on this
issue, a considerable change compared to the 1990s. With the introduction of Harkins’s
Bill in the US Senate in the early 1990s, both the government and the entrepreneurs had
taken steps to eliminate child labour in the export-oriented RMG sector of the country.
Buyers are at present very strict in terms of ensuring that they do not place orders to
factories that have any child labour. Majority of sample enterprises did not provide
appointment letters to the workers, according to the data collected through survey in
2006. A high proportion of large enterprises provided appointment letters to their
workers; about 53 per cent of knit, 51 per cent of woven and 40 per cent of sweater
enterprises did so. The proportion of sample EPZ enterprises that provided appointment
letters to workers was about 69 per cent, while the proportion of non-EPZ enterprises
providing appointment letters to workers was 22 per cent. A formal appointment letter,
where all important aspects of employment, were mentioned, would give confidence to
the workers regarding job security which could lead to higher levels of retention in the
factory. According to entrepreneurs, most of the enterprises paid workers' wages within
first and second week of the month; more than 90 per cent of the enterprises did so. The
practice of payment of workers' wages in the third week of the month was evident not
only in small enterprises, but also in medium and large enterprises. Getting income in the
first week of the month was felt to be critically important by the workers since they had
to pay their monthly dues including room rent, utility charges, etc. in the first week of the
month. Irregular payment was a major inducement for switching jobs and a high
turnover. In most of the sample enterprises, normal working hour (excluding overtime
working hours) was 8.28 hours, which was more than the stipulated working hours set by
the law. In general, normal working hour in 2005 was marginally lower (-0.2 per cent)
compared to that in 2004. From workers' point of view, reduction of normal working
hour was less important compared to effective working hour that included overtime-
working hour along with normal working hour. Length of overtime working hour was
considerable - it averaged about 13.9 hours per week or more than two hours a day. In
general, overtime working hour has increased by about 3 per cent after the MFA phase
out. It was argued by entrepreneurs that managing bulk volume of production orders was
often difficult within a predetermined schedule of work as production was often
hampered due to electricity outage, strikes, etc. Thus factories had to operate for longer
hours to compensate for these disruptions. However, in most instances longer working
hours in factories was dictated by the pattern of orders placed by buyers which
necessitated production of certain volume within a strictly stipulated time –line. As
maintained by workers, longer working hours and high load of work in the factory,
especially in sweater and knit factories, have reduced workers' leisure hours. Besides,
pressure from the production managers to fulfill high production targets also made their
lives very stressful. This often led to deterioration in relationship between workers and
the management people directly involved in production. Workers maintained that in
many instances workers' unrest was caused by deterioration of relation between workers
and management. Most of the enterprises, according to their owners, maintained a weekly
holiday. Workers maintained that in view of long working hours a weekly holiday was
essential for them. Most of the sample enterprises provided maternity leave to their
female employees. More than 80 per cent enterprises provided maternity leave; the ratio
was higher in the case of sample sweater units. Most of the factories did not have day-
care and canteen facilities. Workers had to take their meal sitting in the stairs or in the
corridors or by going back home. Day-care or canteen facility was available in 53 per
cent woven factories; the share was very low in the case of sweater and knit factories. In
general, the trend is for all types of enterprises to provide such facilities in increasingly
greater numbers in recent years. Because of having no day care facility in most of the
factories, female workers had to leave their children at home or in many cases in their
villages. Monthly wage of a female worker was 28 per cent less than that of a male
worker with identical characteristics. However, the field survey indicated that situation
has improved in recent years and large enterprises tended to provide relatively better
facilities compared to medium and small enterprises. Analysis indicates that compliance
standard of large enterprises was about six points higher than medium enterprises; while
the standard of small enterprises was three points lower than medium enterprises and
both are significant at a high level. It was also found that initial investment was very
important for the level of compliance standard that was maintained by enterprises.
 Workers' Health and Safety Related Compliance Standard:
There were, on average, more than two emergency exits in a sample factory. More than
600 workers could use one exit in large factories, while the number for medium and small
factories was 353 and 170 workers respectively. Number of emergency exits was
relatively higher in EPZ-factory compared to non-EPZ factory. However, availability of
emergency exits did not necessarily ensure worker's safety in full measure. The width of
the exit, landing space available etc. was also important factors from the perspective of
safety. There were, on average, 0.8 doctors available in every factory, which indicates a
good number of factories have no in-house doctors. In other words, one doctor was
available for 1,088 workers. According to sample workers, most common diseases from
which they suffered were headache, cold fever, etc. Most factories did not have adequate
ventilation and exhaust fans and few workers use masks. As a result, there was strong
possibility to be affected by serious diseases, such as tuberculosis. Incidence of accidents
while working in the factory was not found to be very high. Other than accidents, in-
house doctors usually diagnosed the patients and prescribed medicines free of cost, but
workers had to bear all costs of medicine. Trade union activities were almost non-
existent in the garment sector. There were very few factories where workers were
allowed to have trade unions at the factory premise. As is known, following long debates
over the issue of allowing trade union activities in EPZ factories, the government agreed
to allow formation of Workers Welfare Committee (WWC) in the RMG factories located
in EPZs. The WWC is usually comprised of representatives of workers and factory
management, which regularly met and discussed worker related issues. About 52
factories were found where WWC activities prevailed. Fifty five per cent of EPZ
factories were found to have WWC, while only 20 per cent of non-EPZ factories had
WWC. Prevalence of WWC activity has marginally increased in 2005 compared to that
in 2004. Entrepreneurs were more or less divided as regards the issue; one group
supported such a negotiating body while the other group was against it. A regression
analysis was carried out to understand the impact of different factors on workers' health
and safety related compliance standards maintained by the sample enterprises. It is found
that large enterprises were better compliant as the value of index of these enterprises was
9.6 points higher compared to medium enterprises, while small enterprises were less
compliant compared to medium enterprises: score of the former was 5.5 points lower than
the latter. Highly compliant enterprises were 57 per cent more productive compared to
less compliant enterprises and 65 per cent more productive compared to moderately
compliant enterprises. Thus, maintaining compliance with the required standards was
found to have a positive impact on productivity, indicating the need to enforce
compliance at the factory level for the good of the RMG sector itself. Sample
entrepreneurs were of the opinion that for enhancing labour productivity a number of
measures should be taken: organize training for workers, improve compliant situation,
diversify production, provide entertainment facility, increase workers' wage and provide
other incentives, and ensure good behavior with workers, etc.
 Code of Conduct Followed by Major Buyers and Bangladesh's RMG Industry:
Codes of conduct have been an important part of efforts to improve labour standards in
global supply chains. Over the past ten years, these codes and systems put in place to
ensure their implementation have seen a large scale proliferation. Brands and retailers are
faced with multiple industry standards and suppliers are confused by the numerous codes
and initiatives. There is lack of harmony in the Code of Conducts of the different brands,
particularly in the cases of minimum age requirements, wages and benefits and overtime
payment. However, there are some common concerns and standards and Bangladesh will
need to be very careful in addressing the norms established by the brands. Both
legislation of appropriate laws and their enforcement are important. Lack of uniformity in
the brands' requirements often gives rise to confusion among suppliers. A large number
of suppliers do business with several brands. Moreover, although all buyers talk about
following the code of conduct which refers to maintaining and adherence to local
legislation as a minimum requirement, when monitors appointed by buyers or an
independent monitor conducted audit of firms, they tended to follow detailed checklists
provided by respective brands which were usually local legislation plus; suppliers were
often not aware about the additional requirements. Better coordination and cooperation is
essential to address this confusion and agents of the brand, government regulators and
RMG industry should work towards a tripartite understanding. In this context, a local
clearinghouse of standards and compliance could be thought of to streamline the
situation. It is also important to develop a shared understanding about the important
contribution that voluntary codes of conduct could make towards better working
conditions in the factories and also towards higher productivity of labour.
 Policy Recommendations:
Since a number of large and medium enterprises are approaching to enter high-end
segment of apparel market, maintenance of a high level of compliance standard at the
factory level is being considered as the basic requirement to get those orders. These
enterprises thus need to focus on labour-management and labour-relation with highest
priority, followed by environmental safety measures in case of disposal of industrial
wastes and effluents. It is quite educative for Bangladesh to take the experience of
Cambodia in ensuring compliance which has successfully developed an image as
'compliant' source in the US. BGMEA/BKMEA has set up compliance monitoring cells
to oversee maintenance of compliance standard by the factories. However, this needed to
be strengthened and made more effective. In order to monitor and enforce compliance
standard at factory level, an independent compliance monitoring agency (ILO in
Cambodia) could be considered. This agency could be responsible to a joint committee of
government and BGMEA/BKMEA Besides, a common compliance standard need to be
established which would take care of domestic legislation as well as buyers' requirement
(code of conduct) which would be enforced through the monitoring agency. The
government of Bangladesh could set up’ Compliance Up gradation Fund' in support of
developing compliance standard where buyers also could contribute. Enforcement of
standards of their own by individual (major) retailers creates a problem in absence of any
'clearing house'. In view of this RMG associations could work with major buyers to
ensure that there is a common set of standards which is agreed upon by all buyers. There
are strong dividends to be had if Bangladesh could be marketed in the global market as a
'compliant source'.
 Trade Unions that Influences to maintain Industrial Relations In the RMG sector
In Bangladesh:
Trade Union means trade union of the workers or of the employers registered and shall
also include any trade Union federation.
Sydney & webs: It’s the continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of
maintaining or improving the conditions of the working lives.
According to Bangladesh Labor code, 2006: we see that trade indicates the regulating
the relations between
☼ Workers and employers
☼ or workmen and workmen
☼ Employers and Employers
☼ or imposing restrictive conditions on the conduct of any trade or
☼ Trade union is the combination of the employers / workman.
A trade union or labour union is an organisation of workers who have banded together
to achieve common goals in key areas such as wages, hours, and working conditions,
forming a cartel of labor. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the
employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labor
contracts with employers. This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules,
complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits,
workplace safety and policies. The agreements negotiated by the union leaders are
binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-
member workers.These organizations may comprise individual workers, professionals,
past workers, or the unemployed. The most common, but by no means only, purpose of
these organizations is "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment
On The perspective the involment of Trde Union In RMG sector ( Bangladesh); We see
that kind of conditions frequently arises that-
Trade Union Movement organized activities of workers to improve their working
conditions. In the early stage of industrial development when there were personal
contacts between employers (master) and workers (employee), there was no need of any
organization to determine relations between the two. But under the modern factory
system the personal touch is absent and the relations between the employer and the
worker have come under strain. The conflict of interests between buyer and seller of
labour power has become conspicuous and this has led to the rise of trade union
movement throughout the world. The tradition of the parallel development of the
nationalist and the trade union movement, which had originated in British India
continued through the Pakistan period down to the birth of Bangladesh. For the first time
in India the Bombay Mill Hands Association was formed on 24 April 1890. This gave
impetus to the trade union movement in British India. The establishment of ILO in 1919
provided a source of inspiration for the workers to organize themselves and shape their
destiny. India's membership of the same exerted great influence in the formation of a
central organization of workers called 'All India Trade Union Congress' (AITUC) in 1920
for the purpose of conducting and co-coordinating the activities of the labour
organizations.The period from 1924 to 1935 may be considered as the era of
revolutionary trade union movement. MN Roy, Muzaffer Ahmed, SA Dange and
Shawkat Osmani led the trade union movements and as a result the political
consciousness among industrial workers increased. To control the movement, the British
government adopted ruthless measures (eg, Kanpore Conspiracy Case and Meerat
Conspiracy Case) against the militant workers and trade union leaders, but no strategy
could suppress the trade union movement; rather the colonial resistance invigorated the
movement against the colonial power. Later, the trade union movement was closely
linked with nationalist movements and the working class started vigorous struggle for
emancipation from extreme repression and economic exploitation by the colonial regime.
At the time of Partition of Bengal (1947), most trade union leaders were Hindus and
when they migrated to India, a void was created in leadership in the trade union
movement of Pakistan, especially in its eastern wing. Moreover, the institutions to
advance workers' interest were mostly situated in areas outside Pakistan. There were
barely 75 registered trade unions in the whole of Pakistan, compared to 1987 in
undivided India in 1946. Of this small number of trade unions, the larger share fell to
West Pakistan, leaving only a very few for the eastern wing, where there were only 141
factories with 28,000 workers and 30 unions in all with a total of 20,000 members.
During Pakistan period most trade union leaders held conflicting views and the trade
unions were fragmented and weakened. As a result, the trade union movement met a
setback and the trade union activities passed into the hands of petty bourgeoisie
leadership. Moreover, the trade union movement in Pakistan was characterized by
fragmentation of unions, prolonged strikes, retaliatory lockouts and picketing that
sometimes led to violence. As the trade union movement in Bangladesh originated in
British India and Pakistan, it naturally retained its old character of working more as a
nationalist force against colonial domination than as a class force vis-à-vis capitalist
exploitation. As a result, the trade union movement of the region that had gained
momentum in the hands of political leaders stood divided along the political and/or
ideological lines in independent Bangladesh. During this period, the trade union
movement was marked by direct interference by the government and the ruling party in
its internal affairs. In many industrial belts terrorism was let loose by the men of the
labour front of the then ruling party and tried to drive out the honest trade unionists from
the leadership of the unions. Moreover, the barring of outsiders from trade union
leadership at the basic union level made the process of union hijacking very easy and
turned the workers into a very weak and defenseless community. In the early 1980s, the
military government of Bangladesh banned all trade union activities in the country. Then
an alliance of the National Federation of Trade Unions (NFTUs) emerged in the name of
Sramik Karmachari Oikka Parishad (SKOP) to establish the democratic rights of
workers as well as to fulfil their economic demands. Most NFTUs were in SKOP and
since 1983, most trade union movements in Bangladesh have been organised under the
leadership of SKOP.The opportunism and lenient attitude of the trade union leaders
including SKOP gave the ruling regimes a chance to disregard the agreements signed
between the government and the trade union leaders. At present, the leaders of nineteen
of the twenty-three NFTUs are included in the SKOP. After its formation, SKOP
submitted a 5-point charter of demands for establishing their democratic rights and higher
wages through rallies, torch processions, demonstrations, strikes, HARTALs, blockades etc.
Ironically, SKOP failed to yield any tangible results for the working class people of the
country. The effectiveness of the trade union movement under the leadership of SKOP
gradually weakened because most SKOP leaders have political affiliations and therefore,
cannot escape the influence of their respective political parties. Moreover, lack of active
support by the major political parties to SKOP's programmes, excessive pressures on
government by the private employers and donor agencies to disregard SKOP's demands
using repressive measures to disrupt the trade union movement, forcible occupation of
unions, bribing of trade union leaders, opportunistic and compromising attitude of the
union leadership rendered the SKOP demands ineffective. In fact, SKOP has become a
moribund forum of the working class with little to offer to the country's future trade
union movements.
 In our analysis we see that, actually trade Union condition of Bangladesh is that,
Though there are 16 unions representing garment workers, according to the Democratic
Workers Party "...the level of unionisation among workers is very low. Where unions are
involved, they act more like extortionists, taking money from management to keep the
employees in line while at the same time collecting dues from their members, with whom
they have virtually no contact. Most of the unions have direct or indirect links with local
and foreign NGOs, and receiving lucrative grants seems to be their main goal." Most of
the trade unions appear to be tools of one or other of the political parties, strikes being
used more as vehicles for pursuing political goals against rival parties than improving
workers' conditions. The Nation Garment Workers Federation apparently is an exception
to this, being a more grass-roots organisation, closer to an expression of workers' self-
organisation emerging from their own struggles. It would be too easy and simplistic to
apply critiques of modern western business unions to such an organisation. 11 years ago
the NGWF was an organisation with 3 workers paid a basic garment workers wage
operating out of a shed in a workers slum. Working in conditions more similar for
workers in Europe a century or two ago, basic organization for defence and improvement
of working conditions is a matter, sometimes, of whether one starves or not. With rapid
large-scale proletarianisation of rural workers in many parts of Asia (China, India etc)
struggles for unionisation are likely to follow. How institutionalised and bureaucratised
organs like the NGWF might have become is unclear at present, and will be partly
determined by their success as negotiators. One can predict that official recognition, with
a greater budget and status to manage and protect, would accelerate that process. NGWF
was at one time (though apparently no longer) in an alliance with the BGWUC , which
has recently shown an eagerness to promise an obedient workforce to the bosses. Though
organising trade unions was banned by employers in the EPZs, this is changing, as one of
the concessions won by the revolt. This is anyway a convenient concession for the
bosses; a Bill is being introduced into the US Senate which, if passed, would ban all
imports produced in sweatshops. This is a form of US trade protectionism and corporate
image management expressed as concern for workers' conditions. The Bill would
penalise Bangladesh, Jordan etc and America's big rival China in, for example, the
garment industry, by attempting to undercut their present advantage of cheaper labour
 Pecularities of Trade Uninonism on the perspectives regarding RMG Sectors in
♣Political linkage:
In most of the cases we see that types of scenario that, Trade unions are influenced by
political parties and politicians. Most of the time, politicians use the trade unions for
political and self- seeking purpose. In this view, trade unions are not work independently
and cannot server the interest of their workers in RMG sector (Bangladesh).
♣Poor organizational Strength:
The strength of the trade unions in the RMG sectors in Bangladesh is very weak due to
the unemployment problem. The employer can fire any worker at any time if they protest
for their demands because in our country manpower supply is very high. In this point of
view, commitment is less on the perspective of employers regarding any cases.
♣Little economic strength:
The workers are very poor. Their economic status is not so good. That is why they can
not continue the strike for a long period of time as a result happen of the striking result
will not seriously affect to the employers. If we see the actual scenario of real condition
of the RMG sector workers in Bangladesh, the fact of economic condition creating that’s
kinds of surrounding environment which will create a fear able position in their mind of
the prospect, at this time ultimately they are not interested to create a striking
environment that will enforce the employers to provide their rights in an effective and
efficient manner.
♣Educational level:
Most of the workers are not educated enough, that is why they are not conscious enough
to exercise their roles, rights and responsibilities. They entirely depend on the central
leaders. But most of the cases in the RMG sector in Bangladesh, we see that our Trade
union leaders always interested to their self interest.
♣Self-seeking leadership:
Majority of the union leaders at all levels; plant levels, Industrial levels and National
levels are concerned with their self-interest. They are not aware for the economic and
other interests of the workers. If we see the actual scenario of the RMG sector in
Bangladesh, we realize that their ethical standard is very low on the perspective of their
commitment regarding their duties and responsibilities.
♣Lack of ideological commitments:
Most of the trade unions are loyal to their leaders than to the ideologies that hamper the
activities of the trade unions. This actual scenario we observe RMG sector in Bangladesh.
♣Legal orientation:
Trade unions are developed in our country because of the political pressures and
politicians. So it was never free from the pressure of the political parties. Sometimes they
use trade unions for their self-interest like to bring change in the Government.
♣Multiplicity of unions:
In our country, there are many numbers of trade unions available which indicates one of
the weak points of them as when their bargaining with their employers for the demands it
can not use its full power for the acceptance of their demands.
 Functions of Trade Unions in perspective of RMG sector in Bangladesh:
OFunctions relating to members
OFunctions relating to organization
OFunctions relating to union
OFunctions relating to society
OFunctions relating to members:
¹To safeguard worker against all sort of exploitation by the employers, by union
leaders and by political parties: Making sure that the workers are getting all the
benefits form the employers. They are not pressurized by the employers for example not
to join any trade unions or not giving the minimum wages. In our country in the RMG
sector, the activities for this is not satisfactory level, still in the most of the company are
not providing the minimum wages.
¹To ensure healthy and safe working conditions: The primary concern of the trade
union is to make sure the environment secure where the workers are performing the job.
In some of the Company’s of RMG sectors, safety-working conditions are maintained
like for providing a alternative staircases which is connected to every floor of the
building, demonstrations for fire accidents. So most of the trade unions are not able to
ensure the safety conditions of the workers through providing the pressure to the
¹To ensure a desirable standard of living by providing various types of social
services: Ensuring whether the workers are getting all types of facilities that are their
rights to get. In most of cases in the RMG sector the workers are not getting the facilities,
not even the minimum wages.
¹To remove the dissatisfaction and redress the day-to-day grievances: The
employers when still firing the workers without giving notice so the workers are
becoming helpless. As most of the trade union leaders are not well educated for the better
negotiations dissatisfaction and grievances are increasing day by day in the RMG sector
in Bangladesh.
¹To encourage workers participation in the management of industrial
organization: To make sure that workers participation is maintained by them but in the
RMG sector in Bangladesh the participation is not at satisfactory level. Most of the times,
it is not getting chance when the employers take any decision for them.
¹To develop the workers consciousness regarding their rights and duties: Trade
unions in our country trying to make aware of their rights and responsibilities to their
workers but the problem is that most of the time they are concerned only for their benefits
excluding the employers benefits.
¹To raise the status of the trade union members in the industrial organizations and
in the society at large: The main problem is that there are many numbers of trade unions
they are not united. That is why they cannot influence the employers or employers
association. As a result it cannot contribute a lot to the society.
¹To guarantee a fair deal and social justice to workers: To make sure that the
workers are not deceived by the employers and to protect the workers from unfair labor
practice. In the RMG sectors in our country, some of the trade unions are ensuring that
the workers are fairly treated regarding their welfare and other facilities that is why
workers dissatisfaction is increasing day by day.
OFunctions relating to organization:
¹To highlight industrial relations organization as a joint enterprise between
workers and management: Making a path for the participation with the management
while they are taking any decision for the workers. Well trade union in our country in the
RMG sector, are acting as an important role while negotiation.
¹To increase production maintaining quality by laying down the norms of
production and ensuring their adequate observance: Trade unions are closely
connected to the employers so it knows better what is the expectation of the employers
from the workers regarding the product quality other elements. In the RMG sector in
Bangladesh, the trade unions are playing a vital role to transfer the information from the
employers to the workers for the quality of product as well as the expectations of the
¹To help in the maintenance of discipline: In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, because
of the job dissatisfaction the workers are frequently going for strike. Trade union is not
playing effective role to create pressure to the management to accept their demands and
to make understand the workers what they are not supposed to do which will violates the
rules and regulations.
¹To create opportunities workers participation in the management: Trade union is
medium through which workers can get opportunity to participate in management
decision role. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, it is ensuring the active participation of
the workers in the management. That is why employers are able to know what
expectations of the workers are.
¹To help in the removal of dissatisfaction: Trade unions can inform the employers
what is the reason for the workers dissatisfaction by which dissatisfaction can be reduced
or eliminated. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, most of the trade union leaders, most of
the time is busy with their own interest that is why it is not acting as a medium to
eliminate or reduce the job dissatisfaction.
¹To create favorable opinions of the management towards trade unions and
improve their status in industrial organization: Trade unions can contribute to
maintain a sound industrial relations as it is directly linked to the both the organizations
and the workers. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, this function is not satisfactory.
¹To facilitate communication with the management: Trade union is enhancing the
opportunity both to the employers and workers for the well communication to understand
the both parties’ expectations. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, trade union is acting as
communication medium but in the most of the cases this is satisfactory level.
¹To promote cordial relations between the workers and management by setting
disputes through negotiation, joint consultation and voluntary arbitrations: Trade
union is acting a vital role to reduce the industrial conflict, industrial dispute because they
know better the both parties expectations
OFunctions relating to union:
¹To improve financial position by fixing higher subscription, by collecting subscriptions
and organizing special fund-raising campaigns.
¹To preserve and strengthens trade union democracy
¹To train members to assume leadership position
¹To improve the network of communication between the trade unions and its members
¹To promote unity within the union
¹To remove various types of isms within the trade union movement
¹To keep away from advocating the adoption of unfair labor practice
¹To prepare and maintain the necessary records
¹To formulate policies and plans consistent with those of the industrial organizations
and society at large
¹To manage the trade union organization a scientific lines.
¹To publicize the trade union objectives, to know peoples reaction towards them and to
make necessary modifications
In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, there are many numbers of trade unions. They are not
united. As result it cannot influence the employers to accept their demands. Most of the
trade unions are not well organized to maintain the necessary records, which can be used
for the future references. Most of the time, union leaders are concerned for themselves; as
a result, employers are getting chance for unfair labor practice. Most of the trade unions
are less concerned to their members; it tries to take its own decision that hampers the
rights of the workers as well as the expectations. Most of the trade unions in our country
are not able to protect the economic interest of the workers. Most of the time workers are
not getting the minimum wages, working environment is not safe.
OFunctions relating to society
¹To render all sorts of constructive cooperation in the formulation and implementation
of plans and polices relating to national development.
¹To launch special campaigns against the social evils of corruption, nepotism,
communalism, regionalism, black marketing, smuggling and literacy: Trade unions
¹To enable unorganized sector to organize itself
¹To create public opinion favorable to trade unions and thereby to raise their status
Trade unisons can contribute a lot to the society, to the country if it can perform it
functions properly. It can influence the government to change their policies; even it can
change government, the ideology of the Government. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh,
the political parties influence the trade unions and they are also suffering form self-
seeking leadership, which its functional work is not at satisfactory. It can not influence
the government rather we observe that political parties are using trade unions for their
political purpose.
 Current situation of the Labour of the Trade unions In the RMG sector in
All employers are expected to comply with the government's labor laws, which specify
employment conditions, working hours, wage levels, leave policies, health and sanitary
conditions, and compensation for injured workers. Freedom of association and the right
to join unions is guaranteed in the Bangladesh Constitution. There are over 6,400
registered trade unions in Bangladesh, with over 1.9 million union members. In July
2004, the Bangladesh parliament enacted a law granting limited freedom of association
rights in the export processing zones. Workers of the industrial units are allowed to form
a welfare council to develop and grow into organizations, defending their welfare through
collective bargains, according to the law. As of November, 2006, workers are permitted
to form unions at firms located in the export processing zones. Bangladesh’s labor
unions, most of them associated with political parties, can be militant. Violence and the
threat of violence by some trade unions have produced wage increases in excess of
productivity increases, raising unit labor costs. Worker layoffs, or the mere threat of
reductions-in-force, can be expected to cause some of the most serious and
confrontational labor disputes. Labor disputes do not necessarily need to be heard before
a legal court. Many companies have found it effective to resolve issues before a Labor
Tribunal. Labor in private sector enterprises is mostly not unionized and comparatively
more productive. Productivity in Bangladesh has been affected by hartals (general
strikes) called by political parties and movements. These hartals, enforced by political
activists, essentially close down business throughout the country and raise the cost of
doing business in Bangladesh due to the downtime they impose on commercial activity.
Bangladeshi laws do not uniformly prohibit the employment of children or set a
minimum age for employment. Numerous laws prohibit child labor in certain sectors,
ranging from transport workers to tea plantation labor, but these have not addressed the
informal sectors, such as agriculture and domestic work, where the majority of children
are employed. As a result, child labor in Bangladesh has historically been a fact of life.
On July 4, 1995, Bangladesh’s garment exporters association signed a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the
International Labor Organization (ILO) under which child laborers in the EPZ textile
factories were removed and enrolled in education programs. ILO-assisted monitoring
teams, which found child laborers in 43% of EPZ factories in 1996, found fewer than 5%
in 2001. The MOU program has been phased out, and the U.S. Embassy considers the
project a success, with most child labor now eradicated from the EPZs. Child labor laws
outside of the EPZs are not effectively enforced. Bangladesh, however, is working to
comply with ILO conventions on child labor in an effort to eradicate child labor in all
 Structure of Trade Union in Bangladesh:
National Federation of TU
Indus. Fed Indus. Fed
 Explanation Structure Of trade Union in Bangladesh:
The structure indicates three major types of Trade Unions, which are:
^ Basic Union
^ Industrial Federation
^ National Federation
Basic Unions:
= Blue- Collar Union: Blue- Collar union, who are directly involved with the
production process of the factory. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, workers are the
group of Blue- collar union.
= White collar Union: In the perspective of White Collar union, it consists of clerks. In
the RMG sector in Bangladesh managers and Administrator are the group White-collar
= Mixed Union: In the perspective of Mixed Union, it consists of both workers and
clerks. It is the combination of both.
Industrial Federation:
= Federation of some basic unions that works in an industry
= Also considered as Craft Federation
= Examples: Bangladesh Chatkol Sramik Fedaration ( BCSF)
= It may be the member of National/ International Trade Union Federation
National Federation:
= The Apex Body of Trade Union structure
= The Trade Union Structure is not strong in Bangladesh workers are divided under
much National Federation.
 Application for the Registration:
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 177)
Any TU may with the signature of president and secretary may apply for the
registration to the register of the concerned area.
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 178)
Application for registration shall have to be submitted with some particulars to the
Director of Labour or to the officer authorized.
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 183)
A group of establishments shall be considered as one establishment for the purpose of
TU formation.
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 179)
A trade union of the workers shall not be entitled to registration unless it has a
minimum membership of thirty percent of the total number of workers employed in the
establishment in which it is formed. In case of more than one establishment under the
same employer that are allied to and connected with one another for the purpose of
carrying of the same industry irrespective of their place of situation shall be deemed to be
one establishment.
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 181)
A registered TU have to maintain register, which will include:

^A register of members
^An account book
^A minute book
 Disqualifications for becoming a member or an officer of a trade union:
OIf he/she has been convicted of terminal offence involving moral turpitude or an
offence under section (196) or section (298) and a period of two years has not elapsed
since his release.
OHe/she is not employed or engaged in the establishment in which the trade union is
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 176)
OWorkers and employers trade unions will have the right to form federation and to join
it and the workers and the employers of such union or federation shall have the right to
get affiliated with any international organizations or confederation
OTrade unions and employer’s associations shall have the rights to draw up their
constitutions and rules, to elect their own representatives with full freedom, to organize
the administration and activities and to formulate programs for the organization.
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 200)
OAt least 20 registered trade unions in case of more than one industry may jointly or
being joint together forms a nationwide trade union federation.
 Cancellation of Trade union: For the following reason registration of a TU may
be cancelled-
According to Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006(Section 190)
The registration may be cancelled by the Director if:
OIts existences gets abolished
OThe TU applies for the cancellation of registration
OIt obtains registration by fraud or by misrepresentation of the facts.
OIt violates any fundamental provision of the its constitution
OCommits any unfair labor practices.
OIt violates any provision of this chapter or any rules.
OIts membership falls below the number required
 Collective Bargaining:
Collective bargaining means the negotiation between and employer or group of
employers and a group of work people to reach an agreement on working conditions. It is
opposite to the individual bargaining.
According to the Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006, - it includes
• Trade union or trade union federation
• Works as the agent of the workers in the matter of collective bargaining.
Characteristics of collective bargaining
Sydney and Webb in UK and first identified this concept also by groups in USA.
Where there is only one trade union in an establishment that trade union shall be
considered to be the collective bargaining agent for that establishment.
Where there are more than one trade union in an establishment the director of labor
shall after getting an application made in this regard made by any trade one of that
establishment or by employers holds a secret ballot within 120 days to determine as to
which one of such trade unions shall be the collective bargaining agent for the
Trade Union Federation can act also as Collective Bargaining Agent:
A federation shall act as the collective bargaining agent if:
A member trade union authorizes the federation
Provisions in this respect in the constitutions of the federation and the trade union.
 Growth of collective bargaining is linked to the growth of trade union movement:
Successful negotiation or independently negotiation is the path of creating successful
trade unions. Unless effective negotiation is there we cannot say negotiation is formed. In
our RMG sector in Bangladesh, workers are not independently negotiate to their
employers, so we can easily sought out that, most of the cases our trade union is
ineffective. So, we see both are interrelated. As a managers and Employers, we always
see when we encourage from a trade union; at that time we also focus or create that kind
of environment that workers are independently share their ideas to their trade union
leaders as well as employers also.
 Importance characteristics of collective bargaining:
Group action: It is a group action as opposed to individual action and is initiated through
the representatives of the workers.
Flexible: It has the scope for compromise before the final agreement is reached. The
parties normally ask for more or offer less than they ultimately accept or give.
Continuous process: It provides a mechanism for continuing and organized relationships
between management and trade unions.
Dynamic: It is not dynamic and not static because it is a relatively new concept and is
growing and changing.
Ensures democracy: It ensures democracy at work place.
OCollective Bargaining is not a competitive process but it is essentially a
complementary process. Each party needs something that the other party has, namely,
labour can make a greater productive effort and management has the capacity to pay
for that effort and to organize and guide it for achieving its objectives.
OIt is an art, an advanced form of human relations.
 Functions of Collective Bargaining Agent (Section 202, Subsection 24, pages 256-
257, The Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006)
According to the subsection 24 of the sections 202 the collective bargaining agent in
relation to an establishment shall be entitled to-
O Undertake collective bargaining with the employer on matters connected with non-
employment, the terms of employment or the conditions of work;
O Represent all or any of the workers in any proceedings;
O Give notice of, and declare, a strike in accordance with the provisions of this;
O Nominate representatives of workers on any welfare establishment or provident fund
and on the Board of Trustees of participation fund established.
O Conduct cases on behalf of any individual of group of workers.
Current Trends in Collective Bargaining in the International perspective:
Collective bargaining may take place at the national, industry or enterprise level. In no
country does it take place exclusively at one level only. However in many industrialized
countries, especially in Europe, the existence of strong employers, organizations and
trade unions have resulted in many important agreement beings concluded at the national
or industry level, supplemented by some enterprises level bargaining. In the USA,
however bargaining at the enterprise level has been the more usual practice other than in
the specific sectors such as coal, steel and construction. In Japan, national level
bargaining ahs been the exception and it has been supplemented by a substantial amount
of enterprise level bargains, facilitated partly by union structures which are enterprise
based. In many Asian countries relatively low rates of unionization have militated against
national and industry level bargaining and enterprise level bargaining has been more
common. This account for the relatively non-involvement of some Asian employers
organizations in collective bargaining. Japanese employers and workers have
demonstrated how a combination of enterprise level bargaining and shop floor
mechanisms (such as joint consultation) enables the parties to take into account specific
enterprise conditions and also to increase productivity.
The tendency during the last decade – and especially in the 1990s- even among
industrialized countries with a highly centralized bargaining system, is towards enterprise
bargaining level. This is true of even a country like Sweden with a strong employer’s
organization, a strong trade union movement, and a previous tradition of centralized
bargaining. In the 1990s the avowed policy of the Swedish employers Confederation has
been to move negotiation to the enterprise level. Decline in union membership and
increase in corporate power in Europe have contributed to this trend. But most
importantly, restructuring of enterprises flowing from intense competition has created the
need of focus on enterprise level issues such as flexible working time, removal of narrow
job classifications, new work organization, promotion of more worker involvement
schemes and decentralized decision making.
Current Trends in Collective Bargaining on the Bangladesh perspective:
Although at the beginning of the Pakistan Period there was no initiative, a structural
framework was given to the collective bargaining in the industrial relations ordinances in
1969. Collective Bargaining was prohibited in large government sectors in 1972 although
the same government withdrew this decision later. Outsider’s memberships in basic
unions and election of CBA were prohibited through industrial relations ordinance in
1975. CBA created a ridiculous situation in the period of General Ziaur rahman due to
misuse of labor leaders by the government. General Ershad in 1982 restricted the election
of collective bargaining agent and imposed restrictions on the functions of trade unions.
These factors made the collective bargaining program inactive and developed unrest
among labors. At this stage National federations were united and formed SKOP to keep
the interest of the workers and started movement. This situation compelled the
government to sign an agreement with SKOP and collective bargaining started its work
Essentials Conditions for the success of Collective Bargaining, in this perspective
actually RMG Sector in Bangladesh maintain the conditions or not:
OA favorable political climate:
If collective bargaining is to be fully effective, a favorable political climate must exist. In
particular, the Government and public opinion must be convinced that collective
agreement is the best method of regulating certain conditions of employments. When we
see the real conditions of the RMG sector in Bangladesh, political climate is not good.
We see that, politicians create a pressure to the trade unions.
OFreedom of association:
Freedom of association is essential for collective bargaining, where it is restricted,
collective bargaining is also restricted. In the RMG Sector in Bangladesh, employers are
more powerful because in our country there is an unemployment problem. So, employers
frequently create a pressure. In this case ultimately freedom of association is not there.
OStability of workers organizations:
Workers may have freedom of association but unless they make use of this right and form
and maintain stable unions, collective bargaining will be ineffective. In the RMG sector
in Bangladesh, we see that most of the time trade unions are not stable; it is reforming
that is why it cannot create a huge influence to the employers.
ORecognition of Trade Unions:
Even assuming that freedom of association is exists and that the workers have established
stable organizations, collective bargaining can not begin until employers recognize the
organizations for that purpose. In most of the cases RMG sector employers not interested
to hear any causes that are raised by the trade unions.
OWillingness to give and take:
The fact of entering into negotiations implies that the differences between two parties can
be adjusted by compromise and concession in the expectation that agreement can be
reached. In RMG sector in Bangladesh, Willingness to give and take conditions is very
poor. Maximum garments employers not pay minimum amount of wages to their
employees, as a result workers are unhappy; ultimately workers productivity is also low.
OConstructive Consultations:
Constructive Consultations between trade union and management is possible only when
the bargaining power of two parties is relatively equal. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh,
Employers tendency will always forcing power to the workers. Workers are always
feeling fear able conditions because in this country there are lot of people wait to do the
work, that is unemployment problem and educational background is not good also. As a
result, we see that, ultimately bargaining power of two parties is not equal.
OMutual confidence:
Both the parties must have mutual confidence, good faiths and a desire to make collective
bargaining machinery success. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, the workers do not trust
their employers, as continuously employers are not fulfilling the demands, which were
accepted by them.
OFree from unfair labor practice:
The process of bargaining should be free from unfair labor practices. In our RMG sector
in Bangladesh, we see that frequently strike is happen because of unfair labour practice.
OPositive attitudes:
The attitudes of the parties should be positive. In the RMG sector conditions, we see that
some of the employers and worker member’s attitude is positive but most of employers
and workers attitude is not positive.
OProper representations of rights and responsibilities:
Both the parties should represent their rights and responsibilities properly. In RMG sector
in Bangladesh, proper representations of rights and responsibilities are not maintained.
The workers are not and union leaders are not educated enough to exercise their rights
and responsibilities.
Collective bargaining process:
It identifies two major phase of collective bargaining process, those are:
Negotiation Phase
Contract Administration Phase
Negotiation Phase:
The negotiation phase involves the bargaining and establishments of the contract terms.
Negotiation is process of advancing proposals, discussing and criticizing them,
explaining and exploring their meaning and the effects, seeking to secure their acceptance
and making counter proposals or modifications for similar evaluation. Negotiation may
be positive or negatives. In positive negotiation the management tends to advances its
own proposals while in the negative procedure it waits to see what the union will
Contract Administration Phase:
Contract Administration Phase relates to application and interpretations of contract terms.
Contract Administration relates to putting the signed agreement into effect.
Employee Grievance occurring in the RMG sector In Bangladesh:
A grievance occurs when an individual thinks that his colleagues or supervisor is
wrongly treating him; perhaps he or she is being picked on, unfairly appraised in his
annual report, unfairly blocked for promotion or discriminated against on grounds of race
or sex. An employee grievance is an indication of his discontent or dissatisfaction. He
may express it or he may not communicate it. It can be real or imaginary, legitimate or
ridiculous, stated or unvoiced, written or oral. It must, however, find expression in some
form or the other. Dissatisfaction or discontent per se is not a grievance. They initially
find expression in the form of a complaint. When a complaint remains unattended and the
employee concerned feels a sense of lace of justice and fair play, the dissatisfaction
grows and assumes the status of a grievance.
It is simply a complaint, which has been formally presented in writing, to a management
representative or a union official. But for the most people, the word “grievance” suggests
a complaint that has been ignored, overridden or dismissed without due consideration.
“ILO” defines a grievance as a complaint of one or more workers related to:
O Wages and allowance
O Conditions of work
O Interpretation of service conditions covering such as
OT, Leave, Transfer, Promotion, Seniority, Job
Termination of Service”.
The National Commission on Labor Observed that “Complaints affecting one or more
individual workers in respect of their workers in respect of their Wage payments, OT,
Leave, Transfer Promotion, Seniority, Work Assignment & Discharges Constitute
Causes of Employee Grievances
 Amenities
 Promotions
 Continuity of Service
 Fine
 Nature of Job
 Compensation
 Payments
 Continuity of work
 Safety Environment
 Disciplinary action
 Super Annulations
 Transfers
 Victimization
Effects of Grievance:
 Frustration
 Alienation
 De-motivation
 Slackness
 Low Productivity
 Increase in Wastage & Costs
 Absenteeism
 In discipline
 Labour unrest
 Increase in employee
 What are the procedures for pursuing a grievance should be:
Step 1. The individual should discuss the grievance with a staff/ union representative (or
a colleague). If his case seems a good one, he should take the grievance to his immediate
Step 2. The first interview will be between the immediate boss (unless he is the subject of
the complaint, in which case it will be the next level up) and the employee; who has the
right to be accompanied by a colleague or representative.
Step 3. If the immediate boss cannot resolve the matter, or the employee is otherwise
dissatisfied with the first interview, the case should be referred to his own superior (and if
necessary in some cases, to an even higher authority).
Step 4. Cases referred to a higher manager should also be reported to the personnel
department. Line management might decide at some stage to ask for the assistance/advice
of a personnel manager in resolving the problem.
Distinguish between individual grievances and collective grievances: Collective
grievances might occur when a work group as a whole considers that it is being badly
Allow for the involvement of an individual’s or group’s trade union or staff
association representative. Indeed, many individuals and groups might prefer to initiate
some grievance procedures through their union or association rather than through official
grievance procedures. Involvement of a union representative from the beginning should
mean that management and union would have a common view of what procedures should
be taken to resolve the matter.
State time limits for initiating certain grievance procedures and subsequent stages of
them. For example, a person who is passed over for promotion should be required to
make his appeal within a certain time period of his review, and his appeal to higher
authority (if any) within a given period after the first grievance interview. There should
also be timescales for management to determine and communicate the outcome of the
complaint to the employee.
According to Bangladesh Labor Code, Section-33( Grievance procedure):
(1)An worker including such worker whose employement came to an end on account of
being laid-off, discharged, dismissed, terminated or for any other, who has grievance
about any matter under this chapter and if he desires to get any relief regarding that
matter under this section, he shall submit his grievance in writing to hid employer within
thoirty days from the date of being informed of the caise of the grievance by registered
Provided that the submitting of the grievance not by registerd post shall also suffice if the
appointing authority acknowledgements directly in writing the receipt of the grievances.
(2) The employer shall inquire into the grievances and by giving the worker concerned a
chance of being heard inform him of his decision about the matter within 15 days from
the ddate of receipt of the grievances.
(3) If the employer fails to give a decision under subsection-2 or if the worker is not
satiusfied with such decision, he may lodge a complaint with the Labour Court within 30
days from the date of the expiry of the time allowed under sub section-2 or within 30
days, as the case may be , from the date of the employers decision.
(4)The Labour Court after receiving the grievance, by serving notice upon both the
parties shall hear them about the grievance and give such decision as it deems fit and
proper in the circumstances as per its discretion
(5) The Court by iys order passed under sub-section(4) may, amongst other reliefs, give
direction to reinstate the complaint with or without back wages and transform the order of
dismissal,terminatio or discharge into minor punishments as provided for in section
(6) Any worker aggrieved by the order of the Labour Court may prefer an appeal before
the Tribunal within 30 days from the date of the order and decsion given on the appeal
shall be final.
(7) No court free is payable for Lodgging any acomplaint or appeal inder this section.
(8) Any complaint under this section shall not be treated as a criminal prosecution under
this act.
(9) Notwithstanding any provuded in this section, no complaint can be lodged against the
order of termiantion given under section 26, unless the order of termination is given on
account of the worker’s tarde union activities or compalint is made to effect that the
impugned order was given beingactuated by motiavtion or unless he is deprieved of the
benefits which he is entitiled under that section.
If we see the actual senario of the RMG sector in Bangladesh, there are lot of grivance
occur regarding the causes of wages, physical conditions, working environment, sexual
harrasment, safety environment, supervisors behavior, Disciplinary action etc. The fact is
that, if the workers raise their voice regarding grievance, they go to employers but we see
most of cases our RMG sector employers not willingly try to solve grivance. They always
create a pressure to the workers, that’s way workers are unhappy most of the time. If we
see different newspapers, sometimes workers are treated unequally because most of the
garments factory promotion will be based on the perspective of relatives to the
employers. So, basically performance based is ignoring. We see that, most of the
garments factory, they terminate their workers without serving a notice. At the time if the
employer pursue to negotiate, what are the causes they will terminate, in this condition
employers create pressure to the workers. In the grievance procedure, we see that workers
are right to go the labour court; but if we see our economic conditions, education level
regarding workers, sometimes they are not able to go the labour court. Government of
Bangladesh are not impement their laws effectively because political pressure is there.
So, ultimately we see all of the casses employers hold a powerful position in all of the
grievance handling procedure.
In the above scenario of the RMG sector in Bangladesh, our suggestion if the
employers concentrate this kind of Grievance Handle Procedure; we believe, that
will create a win-win situation of both parties:
Let the Employee Talk:
+Put the employee at ease
+Listen him in private
+Listen with sincere interest
+Do not argue
+Probe for the real grievance
+Get all the details
+Check the employee’s story
+Take notes
+Repeat the grievance in your own words.
+Tell the employee when he will get an answer.
Check the Facts:
+Consult others
+Refer to the written policy
+Consider the employee’s view point
+Look at the employee’s record
Telling the Employee:
+Be willing to admit mistake
+Give the benefit of doubt
+If the employee’s grievance id unfounded explain
+Keep your cool
+Prepare the case for appeal.
Follow Through
+Take prompt action to correct the cause of the grievance
+Check with employer
+ Don’t let it happen twice.
Quality of Work Life:
^Quality of Life indicates the favorableness or unfavorable ness of a job
environment for people
^QWL aims at
^Healthier, more satisfied and more productive employees
^More sufficient, adaptive and profitable organizations.
Improving the two goals at the same time:
´Enhanced effectiveness of the organization
´Improved quality of life at work for employees
Determinants of QWL:
´Adequate and fair compensation:
This includes two facts on is the sufficient amount of wages and another is that this
wages has to be comparable that means it has to be equitable. In the RMG sector in
Bangladesh, the workers are not getting sufficient amount of wages for the job they are
performing in most organizations even they are not getting the minimum wages. So on
the job and off the job both are hampered. Job dissatisfaction is increasing day by day. As
a result workers are frequently going for the strikes and public properties are destroyed
which are disadvantage for the employers, the economy of the countries and for the
workers themselves. The wages workers are getting that is not also comparable with
others both in the inside of the organization and outside of the organization. As a result
productivity is also decreased because of the increased job dissatisfaction.
´Safe and healthy working conditions:
Safe and healthy working conditions are not satisfactory in the most of the organization
in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. Employers are supposed to comply with The
Bangladesh Labour Code, 2006 that gives some guidelines how QWL can be developed
in the organizations, it states a " policy of increasing the participation of the labour force,
the chief socio-economic force of the country, in the management of enterprises by
gradually securing employment opportunities to it, ensuring the right to work, and thus
protecting its rights and interests. In compliance of the QWL the Labour Code, 2006 aims
to protect rights, interests, facilities and safety of workers and employees working in
different enterprises in various sectors. Some of the major provisions are summarized
• Job Classification: Every establishment shall have to classify the job of the
workers and employees of the enterprise according to the nature of production
process, service or business of the enterprise and shall furnish the information
thereof to the concerned Labour Office. This refers that pay and other incentives
of a worker should be explicitly based on the nature of work done.
• Change in the ownership: Any change in the ownership of the enterprise shall
not be deemed to have any effect on the terms and conditions of service of the
workers or employees of the enterprise adversely thus QWL will be increase.
• Intermission for Refreshment and Rest: Employees are not supposed to work
continuously for more than five hours without providing an interval of half an
hour for Tiffin & rest, six hours without providing an interval of one hour break
and it is very important for the workers to enhance their productivity with
efficiency and will create a good working life.
• Minimum Remuneration Fixation Committee: Government shall fix the
minimum remuneration, dearness allowance and facilities of workers or
employees of enterprises and have to make sure about the implementation. Good
salary is an essential element to develop a quality work life.
• Annual increments: Any worker or employee employed permanently shall be
entitled to one increment each year.
• Health and Safety: Have to keep the workplace free from dust, fumes and
hazardous chemicals, adequate supply of light and water and other health and
sanitation facilities at work places. The Labour Office can give order for
maintaining safety standard at the work place.
• Compensation: In case of any worker or employee of the enterprise sustains
physical injury or seriously hurt or gets impairment due to loss of any part of
body or dies in course of his work, the compensation shall be paid to him or to his
family, as prescribed.
• Power to determine the standards: Government time-to-time may prescribe the
standards of safety to develop quality-working life for the workers.
• Punishment: Very important term to ensure QWL in the work place. Punishment
will create proper justice in the workplace, the workers should know if they
violate the working life of other workers he/ she have to take punishment.
• Appointment of Factory Inspector: One of the duties of the Factory Inspector is
to examine building, land, plant, machine, health and security aspects of the
factory, to collect and test the samples of finished or semi-finished materials used
in the factory or to cause them to be tested, to inspect working environment which
has a great impact on QWL.
• Welfare Officer: The welfare officer will work for different welfare services for
the workers. For example whether the first aid appliances, washing facilities,
canteen, restroom, rooms for the children are maintained by the organization
according to the code or not, if not taking immediate action.
Investigation undertaken by a group of experts comprising academicians, managers, and
plant engineers in 40 manufacturing industries employing 10 to 1000 workers in 1997
revealed the following QWL features in the manufacturing industries (CEMIR, 1993):
Physical working conditions: A large number of small-scale industries were established
in existing building facilities, layouts are not systematically arranged.
Physical and mental efforts required: In these industries jobs are very short-cycled,
simple and repetitive and involve conventional low-level technology, dexterity and
initiative. Performance of most of the jobs does not require high physical and mental
Social security: Workers are not insured against health hazards and the given medical
facility is not enough to cover health and sanitation needs.
Skill required in the jobs: About 44 percent of the jobs do not require even reading and
writing skills of the workers. 43 percent workers require detail instructions to perform
their jobs. Less than 4 percent jobs require close attention, diligence, initiative and a high
degree of dexterity and accuracy. 90 percent supervisors working on production floors
have no ideas about the principles and practices of modern management, marketing,
finance, engineering, auditing and other relevant disciplines.
Accommodation: Only 27 percent workers were having apartment provided by the
factories. The quality of accommodation was very poor from hygiene and sanitation point
of view. They normally stayed in a small room and in most cases, the kitchen would be
attached to the bedroom in the corner.
Job responsibility: Only 2 percent workers have some economic and supervisory
responsibility on the job.
In a study it is concluded that very few enterprises are following the labour laws and
other government policies about the working life and conditions of the workers, from
those some very important aspects are pointed bellow.
Recruitment: 61 percent organizations had no system of providing appointment letter,
77 percent organizations had not reappointed as permanent even after completing 240
days, 86 percent organizations had no system of advertisement for recruitment and 40
percent organization had no employees contact in permanent basis.
Working hours: Regarding working hours and facilities the survey finds very
unsatisfactory results. Only 42 percent of enterprises had implemented minimum wage
system, and 36 percent of enterprises had no provision of fixed working hours.
Leaves and holidays: Regarding provision for leaves and holidays, 65 percent had
provided sick leaves, 54 percent had provided public holidays, 55 percent had provided
compassionate leave, 50 percent had provided sick leave and 33 percent had provided
maternity leave.
Collective bargaining: Regarding trade union rights and collective bargaining
agreements (CBA), 54 percent of enterprises had CBA atmosphere, 55 percent
enterprises had not created obstacle or harassment for CBA, only 64 percent
organizations had implemented CBA, 60 percent organizations created problem in the
formation of unions and 35 percent organizations were found to be punishing or
harassing union activists.
Occupational health and safety: Only 13 percent organizations had provision for life
insurance and 22 percent organizations had provision for accidental insurance. The
survey reveals that only 37 percent enterprises had provisions for pay during accident and
injury, 62 percent had provided medical treatment in the accidental injury, 49 percent
organizations had provision for first aid. Furthermore, only 15 percent enterprises had
provided pay during sick time, 23 percent had provision for medical treatment and 15
percent had medical check up facilities.
Formation of Labour Relations Committee (LRC): Only 7 percent of organizations
having LRC to facilitate labour management relations and 24 percent of organizations
had their own regulations of enterprises. The situation of garment industry is worst in
terms of labor relations where almost 98 percent of enterprises had no LRC.
In a recent study undertaken in the garment industries the following features of QWL are
Pay system mechanism: The amount of salary, wage and allowance is based on personal
whims of the entrepreneurs. No standard pay system is developed across the industry.
There is no link between workers' productivity and wages.
Training and development: A large number of the employees were trained on-the-job.
However, employers began to think that such training only increases operational costs. It
was due to the experience in the past with female workers who failed to develop their
skills despite the training given to them.
Performance evaluation: No industries have formal system of performance evaluation
and therefore no promotion is done on the basis of work performed.
Job security: Almost 70 percent of employees are employed on daily wage contract or
piece-rate basis. Only 14 percent are employed under the permanent contract basis.
Appointment letters are issued only for permanent employees. Temporary employees are
not provided appointment letters because employers fear that after 240 days of
employment they are entitled to claim for permanent jobs. Almost 25 percent of garment
factories are paying wages below the wage fixed by the government, which is against the
provision of the Labour Code.
Retirement and other benefits: Although few industries have claimed that they have
provisions for provident fund, gratuity and accident insurance, many of them have failed
to comply with Labour Code in this matter.
Safety and comfort at work place: Although the factories are not hazardous by their
nature they need to take few more safety measures to improve the quality of work. The
study explores that factories need to exist some safety measures such as provision for
fire-exists, fire alarms, and safe drinking water and regulate temperature.
The elements those are essential to determine and improve the Quality of Work
life (QWL) in the RMG sector in Bangladesh:
´Immediate opportunity to use and Develop human capacities:
This indicates that company will create or provide the opportunity for the development
and use of the KSAs of the workers. The utilization of the KSAs of the workers has to be
ensured. But in the RMG sector in Bangladesh, the employer’s are not concerned for the
development of KSAs of the workers. Most of the employers are only concerned for the
current job. They are not bothered for the development of the KSAs of the workers and
employers are also afraid if workers become richer in their KSAs they will demand for
more wages and other facilities.
´Opportunity for continued growth and security:
In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, the security is not ensured like job security or the
social security. Most of the time workers are fired from the company without providing
notice as the unemployment level is very high in our country. Most of the times the
workers are not getting opportunity for the continual career growth as the employers are
not maintaining the HR functions properly.
´Social integration in the work organization:
It includes the structure of the organization, supervisor’s behavior, career opportunity.
The company has organ structure is more helpful for the workers and the employers. The
flow of information is available to everyone. Supervisor’s behavior also affects the
productivity as it is related to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Satisfied workers will be
more productive. If the workers can see that they have a clear career growth opportunity,
they will work hard and will try to gain the necessary KSAs that are required for the
career movement and these KSAs will also help for current job.
´Work and the total life space:
Work is a part of the workers life. Workers can not give up activities of their life for the
job. It indicates that frequently transfer, late night work may hamper the off the job
conditions of the workers. In the RMG sector in Bangladesh, the workers are suffering
more for this. Among the workers, 80% are women. Most of the time, for the night shift
work they have to go home late. This hampers their off the job conditions.
´The social relevance of work life:
It indicates the significance and contribution of the job that are performed by the workers
to the society in which they are living. For example, if the workers are doing the job for
such a company that is creating environment pollution, the workers will not feel proud
for the job as it is doing damage to the society, to the country. In the RMG sector in
Bangladesh, the workers are very much satisfied for their job because the products they
are producing is providing a great contribution to the society, its providing a significant
contribution to the countries GDP.
Industrial Dispute:
Any dispute or difference between employers and employers, employers and workmen or
between workmen and workmen, concerning the employment or the terms of
employment or the conditions of or environment of work
Industrial Dispute on the scenarios of the RMG sector in Bangladesh:
If we see the actual aspects in the RMG sector in Bangladesh, the facts is observed that
our mutual understanding level is very poor. So frequently industrial dispute is taking
place. Another observing thing is that rights, responsibility and commitments of different
parties not at satisfactory level. Many researchers find that working conditions that means
on the aspects of physical environment level not provided on the aspects on employees
demands. So most of the time, workers are dissatisfied about their employers.
Disciplinary actions:
It refers to the condition or attitude prevailing among the employees with respect to rules
and regulations of an organization.
^ Discipline is said to be good when employees willingly follow company’s rules.
^ Discipline is said to be bad when employees follow rules unwillingly or disobey rules.
^ In the RMG sectors in Bangladesh, most of the workers are not willing fully following
the company’s rule because of the job dissatisfaction and other problems. So the
discipline is not satisfactory in the RMG sectors in Bangladesh.
Douglas McGregor’s “Red Hot Stove Rule”
This theory draws an analogy between touching a hot stove and undergoing discipline. It
actually indicates that the authority should start disciplinary procedure immediately after
indiscipline among employees is observed. It should give a clear cut warning regarding
the extent or punishment for an offence and the same punishment should be consistently
given for the same type of offence and it should be impersonal.
When one touches a hot stove-
The burn is immediate: The decision or procedure has to start immediately.
He had warning: The workers are aware for the consequences of violation of any rules
or creating any misconduct.
The effect is consistent: It has to be continuous. Time to time it has to be updated.
The effect is impersonal: The action should be taken from both parties may be
employers or employees.
^In the RMG sectors in Bangladesh, most of the companies are taking decision
immediately but this is not continuous process for them as well as the workers are not
made aware about the punishments. Also most of the companies are not giving same
degree of punishments for the misconducts or other problems.
^In the RMG sectors in Bangladesh, the rules and regulations are not well organized.
There are some weak points even in Bangladesh Labor Code, 2006 like the women are
not permitted to work without her consent but in practically we can see that employers
are making force to the women for night shifts work without her consent. But if the
inspector comes to the company and asks her whether the permission has been taken or
not she has to say yes, otherwise she will lose her job as the unemployment level is very
high in our country.
O Impact of International Labor Organization (ILO) in the RMG sector in
Main aims:
^To remove the hardships of the workers all over the world and to ensure economic
justice for them.
^To improve their living and working conditions as a vital steps towards the
establishments of a based on social justice.
^ILO provides conventions, which is nothing but the International Labour Standard.
^Members’ country may accept the conventions; non-members can also apply to their
O The structure of ILO
^A Triparitite Organization
^Consists of representatives from:
^Ratio: 2:1:1
O Principle organs of ILO:
The interantional labor conference
The Governing body
The international labor office
Number of conventions up to 1990: 156
Number of conventions acceptedby Bangaldesh up to 1990: 31
Important conventions of ILO:
a) Freedom of Labour
b) Freedom of assocaition
c) Equality of Treatment
d) Promotion of employement
e) Wages
f) Social Secuirity
g) Abolotion of Forced labor
h) Protection against Accident
i) Minimum Age for Admission to Employement
O ILO activities in Bangladesh
1. ILO Technical co-operation program
ODevelopment and vocational training
OProgram of bureau of manpower and employement
OIrrigation Pump Training Program of B.A.D.C (Bangladesh Agricultural
Development Coporation).
OCooperation to BRTC (Bangladesh Road Transport Corpoartion).
2.Contribution in the development of cottage indutries
OPlaying a very important role in the development of cottage industries
Main purpose:
OTo cooperate in the development of cottage industries by giving training to the
workers of BSCIC (Bangladesh Small Cottage Industries Corporation).
3. Skill development training to women:
OTraining on production and business
4. Conduct Population projects:
OSpecially limited to industrial workers.
OAlso includes people outside to the industries.
OGives training through industrial relations institue

5. Arrange seminars, workshops and meetings.
O ILO Raps Bangladesh Government in the RMG Sector in Bangladesh:
The ILO rapped Bangladesh for its failure to ensure full freedom of association and
bargaining rights for workers in the country. And the Committee on the Application of
Standards, in a series of actions, demanded that the Bangladesh government: take all
necessary measures to eliminate the obstacle to the−exercise of trade union rights in law
and in practice in EPZs; adopt specific measures, coupled with effective and−sufficiently
dissuasive sanctions, against acts of interference in trade union activities; lower the
percentage requirements of workers set for− registration of a trade union and for the
recognition of a collective bargaining agent; and ensure that these demands are reflected
in a new Labour Code−to be produced as soon as possible. Speaking during the debate in
the Committee, Neil Kearney, General Secretary of the International Textile, Garment
and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF), called for the intervention of the
International Labour Organization to help calm the current chaos in the RMG sector in
Bangladesh through the provision of technical assistance to the government, employers’
organizations and trade unions. Mr. Kearney, who had just arrived in Geneva from
Bangladesh, drew attention to the problems in the RMG sector, where hundreds of
thousands of workers were in revolt over wage levels, the arbitrary imposition of piece
rates, and excessive working time. He drew attention to the workers who had been killed
in recent weeks, to the thousands injured, to the numbers arrested and to the factories that
had been attacked, some destroyed. Said Mr. Kearney: “Some 70,000 workers in the
Dhaka Export Processing Zone have been locked out for days. All this chaos is the direct
result of the inability of workers to exercise their rights to freedom of association and
collective bargaining. With some 4,600 factories in the country, there is hardly a single
collective bargaining agreement and only a handful of trade unions are recognized at
factory level. In reality, Bangladesh’s RMG sector has become a trade union-free sector”.
Mr. Kearney also criticized the high percentage of workers in an enterprise needed to be
in trade union membership before that union could be registered. He said this led to infant
unions in enterprises being attacked and destroyed by employers almost as soon as they
began to form. In reality it had become almost impossible to form a trade union.
Criticising government and employer interference in trade unions, he drew attention to
police and security service harassment of a number of unions in the course of the last
year. He also told the Committee how employers interfere in trade union affairs through
creating management–controlled workers’ committees in factories and through the
nomination of worker representatives on official bodies. Referring to the lack of freedom
of association in Export Processing Zones, Mr. Kearney said that the situation had
actually worsened in the last couple of years “Prior to 2004, workers could form trade
unions within the EPZs, though those involved had no legal protection. With the
introduction of the EPZ Workers’ Associations and Industrial Relations Act 2004, that
right was extinguished. The Workers’ Representation and Welfare Committees (WRWC)
provided for in the Act came about as the result of enforced elections by the Export
Processing Zone authority and once elected, members found that they would be fired if
they raised issues, that they couldn’t bargain with management, and that in reality they
had no voice. This was amply reflected during the early stages of confrontations in the
zones in recent weeks when the WRWC voice was totally absent. “WRWCs are no
substitute for trade unions but trade unions are now totally forbidden in the EPZs. In
addition, the WRWCs may not link up with trade unions - under the threat of
imprisonment. “The Workers Associations proposed to come into effect if workers so
wish after 1 November of this year will be little better. Though they may have links with
other workers’ associations in the zones, they cannot become part of any trade union
organization nationally or internationally. In reality, they are expected to work in
quarantine, contrary to the provisions of ILO Conventions on freedom of association. Mr.
Kearney said that the fact that workers in Bangladesh were leaderless and directionless
had led to near anarchy in the RMG sector since the middle of May.Said Mr. Kearney:
“The events of the last few weeks must be a wake-up call and the fact that the
government, the BGMEA and the BKMEA now say they accept trade unions, though
reluctantly, is welcome. “However, it is unlikely that the capacity exists in Bangladesh to
ensure a quick transformation from a trade union-hostile environment to an RMG
industry that is generally union organized and practicing mature industrial relations.
Thus, the ILO will need to intervene and offer its technical assistance to all involved - the
government, employers and trade unions. Mr. Kearney called on the government of
Bangladesh to take full responsibility for all labour issues including those in the EPZs. “It
is vital that the government develops, publishes and implements a new Labour Code as
soon as possible which will provide for unrestricted freedom of association and the right
to bargain for all workers. The terms of the new Labour Code must apply throughout
Bangladesh, including in the EPZs. The current regulations regarding labour issues in the
EPZs should then be abandoned. “The Labour Ministry needs to be restructured and
strengthened with the power to enforce labour law and the Labour Code and to police
those places providing employment”. Mr. Kearney said that trade unions in Bangladesh
had put forward comprehensive proposals to resolve the current crisis. Employers’
organizations had indicated their willingness to cooperate. Thus, the scene was being set
for a return to normalcy in the RMG sector. “But normal working will only be possible if
the Bangladesh government shoulders its full responsibility, acts urgently to deal with the
immediate crisis and puts in place the necessary mechanisms to permit and promote
freedom of association and collective bargaining in the medium and longer terms.
Freedom of association does not mean a rag-bag of worker committees but integrated
trade union organization throughout Bangladesh’s RMG industry, including in the EPZ”,
concluded Mr. Kearney. Bangladesh’s failures on the provision of freedom of association
and the right of workers to bargain collectively and its sanctioning by the ILO will be
publicly outlined in a report to be endorsed by the full International Labour Conference.
Chapter – 5 Conclusions
O Conclusion & Recommendation
It is estimated that in order to meet the demand gap additional investment in 156
spinning mills (each having 25,000 spindles), 371 weaving mills (each having 300
shuttles or 120 shuttles looms) and 371 dyeing, printing and finishing units of 10 million
meters annually) will be required to set-up. The RMG industry is now in a difficult
situation without adequate backward linkage industry. With the phase out of Multi fibre
Arrangement (MFA) in December 2004, there will be no quota facility. In order to face
the post MFA situation, necessary steps are required to minimise the impact.

1. Assistance (training, information and exposure meetings) in strengthening our
compliance to international standards in this area. We need information on
identification of forward linkage to export markets and supply chain
2. Improvement in availability of updated, relevant information on export markets,
Chambers/ Trade Association should be supported to promote collection and
dissemination of information on trade opportunities available.
3. Introduction of capping mechanism for a transition period of 5/10 years after the
ATC comes into operation.
4. Improvement in trade facilities especially in the Ports, Customs and management.
5. Information on Anti-dumping measures as practiced by major textiles importers
(USA, EU, Canada etc.) and the Rules of Origin as these countries apply them.
6. Continuation of 2 – stage EU GSP rules of derogation in the Post – MFA era.
7. Introduction of some form of safeguard / compensatory mechanism for LDCs
following elimination of quota in the post-MFA era, asking EU to impose
protection measure so that market share of the LDCs countries is ensured and
8. To encourage capital flow from EU countries to LDCs on soft term for investment
in areas such as cotton, woven fabric, MMF, synthetic & blended fabric and fabric
9. Introducing measures to ensure uninterrupted power supply to all export-oriented
RMG enterprises, so that they can operate normally and at its full potential and
10. Creating educational facilities for the labor force from export-oriented Textile
11. Providing training opportunity for labor and management from export-oriented
Textile Industries.
12. Organizing workshops, seminars and symposiums to explain the necessity and
importance of discipline, qualified workers, and improved productivity for export,
national economy development & the welfare of the workers themselves.
13. Continuous innovation in textile technology may bring down the intensity of
content and reduce the cost of production significantly. Continuous efforts should,
therefore, be offered to reduce the cost of doing business by increasing
14. As establishing a completely new textile mill is costly, risky and time consuming,
existing state owned textile mills could be used as starting point. In such a case,
management should be transferred to a private limited company.
15. Government should set-up a textile village providing all the infrastructural and
utilities facilities so that textile industries in the country can boom up.
16. Soft loan with much reduced interest should be provided for BMRE.
17. We must learn to use bureaucracy for the promotion of trade and business and
otherwise we cannot compete with others.
18. A bridge of trust among the private sector, public sector and the academicians
can be established so that a comprehensive effort in the right track and direction
can be initiated whenever necessary.
O References:
¬ Khan, Trade union, Gender Issues & the Ready made Garment Industry in
Bangladesh, Dhaka, Volume – 1, 2006
NERSPECTIVE, Asian Affairs, Vol. 26, No. 1:75-91, January-March, 2004
¬ United Nations, an Investment Guide to Bangladesh, UNCTAD/ITE/IIT/Misc.29
Internet Edition, 2007
¬ Haider, Competitiveness in RMG Sector in Bangladesh, Vol. 3, No. 1, June 2007
¬ Paul, Bangladesh Labor Code 2006 & other Related Laws, 2006 Edition
¬ www.goolge .com
¬ Interview to the R&G garments Owner

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