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(Ministry of Industries)
4, Sobhanbag, Mirpur Road, Dhaka

Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management

(Academic Year-2016)
Industrial Relation
Submitted by:



Md Khairujjaman







Trade Union is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals
such as protecting the integrity of its trade, achieving higher pay, increasing the number of
employees an employer hires, and better working conditions. Characteristics of labor relation
practices and structure of trade union are varying from country to country and government of
every country has different view on the labor relation process. In the developed country like UK,
USA, Japan trade union has more strong than developing country like Bangladesh. In USA Trade
Union is an organization of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals such as
protecting the integrity of its trade, achieving higher pay, increasing the number of employees an
employer hires, and better working conditions. In the 21st century the most prominent unions are
among public sector employees such as city employees, government workers, teachers and
police. Trade unions in the United Kingdom were first decriminalized under the recommendation
of a Royal Commission in 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the organizations was to
the advantage of both employers and employees. Nearly seven million people in the UK belong
to a trade union. Union members include nurses, school meals staff, hospital cleaners, and
professional footballers, shop assistants, teaching assistants, bus drivers, engineers and
apprentices. Most trade unions are independent of employers but have close working
relationships with them. In spite of significant changes in the economic environment,
labor/management relations in Japan have not changed to any significant extent from the
previous two decades. The basic characteristics of the company-based union, the seniority-based
wage profile, the spring labor offensive that features annual wage talks early in the year, longterm employment and workforce adjustments organized primarily within the internal labor
market all continue to this day. Any increase in labor disputes typical of a low-growth economy
has not yet been observed. It can be said the Japanese trade union movement has made few
changes in its traditional style and practice. One reason could be the fact that divisions in the
post-war labor movement which persisted for years have at last been overcome and most unions
have been consolidated into the 8-million strong Rengo. For the first time, trade unions have
shaped themselves into a stable social force. In Bangladesh trade union has remained
predominantly defensives. Full trade union activities were restored by the democratic
government in 1991. During the Emergency in 2007-2008 that lasted for 23 months, trade unions
and collective bargaining were prohibited and the determination of collective bargaining agent
could not be made. However Trade union plays a major role in creating ideal working conditions
and better policies for workers. Now a days Trade union is hugely helping the management to
produce more and implementing management tactics

Trade union is the workers association aimed at strengthening and upholding 'workers' interest
and protects them from any kinds of exploitation from the 'managers'.'Workers' are the
individuals who sell labor in the organization's production process and the men who control the
means of production including workers are called as 'managers'. Alien (1971) explains trade
unionism is an attempt to by otherwise relatively powerless individual employees to rectify the
power imbalance. It is a substitute part of the relationship between the buyers (managers) and the
sellers (workers) of labor power. Because in every organization managers and workers have
inequities with their bargaining power and goals (Table 1). Thus unions act collectively, seek to
promote and protect its mutual interests through collective bargaining with the employers /
Management Goals
The company to survive and remain
The company to grow and prosper
The company to achieve a favorable return on
its investment
The company to effectively use human

The company to attract, retain and motivate

Management's rights to make decisions and
retain flexibility
Commitment from the union that there will be
no strike for the duration of the agreement

Union Goals
The company to survive and remain
competitive as well as the union to survive and
remain secure
The company and union to grow and prosper
The company to achieve a favorable return on
its investment and return 'fair' wages to
The company to effectively use human
resources within the rules and policies of the
agreement and to achieve job security and
employment opportunities for members
The company to attract, retain and motivate
employees within the rules and policies of the
Unions and employees rights that were
negotiated and included in the labor agreement
Commitment from the company that there will
be no lockout for the duration of the agreement
and that grievance will be submitted to binding
arbitration if management and the union cannot

Source: Holley and Jenings: 1997

In the changing global market, labor unions play vital roles in the various sectors of business and
manufacturing arena. In every country the labor unions are the result of a long history. Thus the
characteristics and the structure of the labor union are different in every country. Especially labor
unions are playing different roles through different manners between developed and developing
industrial nations. The most important diagnostic elements are managerial attitudes toward
unions, employee attitudes toward unions, labor market conditions and the government.
Therefore this paper will firstly, study why employees join unions, secondly, taking example of
UAS, UK and Japan will try to explore the unionism in the industrially developed nations,
thirdly, study trade union conditions of Bangladesh as a developing country, and finally
synthesize the findings and draw conclusions.
This study was conducted mainly to explore the differences of the trade unionism and their role
between industrially developed and developing countries. The research method followed for the
purpose of the study has been desk research to review the existing literature on the subject. Thus
the secondary data have been collected from the publication of published texts, relevant journals,
encyclopedia Britannica and World Wide Web (www) etc. To make the study more broad-based
and informative, materials of the paper were presented systematically for analytical purposes and
also to draw inference there from.


Employees join in the trade unions mainly to protect their rights and privileges and also to
defend them against any injustices and exploitation by their employees. The workers who join in
unions normally expect to have more freedom and better wage and benefits than the nonunionized workers do. Thus employees also participate in the unions to enjoy better benefits,
greater job security, to influence work rules, secure workplace health and safety, better training
and development etc. The following table (Table 2) will show the cost and benefits of the
employees for joining in the trade unions.



Union dues
Lost wages during strikes
Surrender right to bargain
Employer recrimination

Improved wages, hours & working

Job security, dignity & fair

4.0 Union in Developed Countries

4.1 Unionism in United States of America (USA)
In the United States history of unions, early workers and trade unions played an important part in
the role for independence. Although their physical efforts for the cause of independence were
ineffective, the ideas they introduced, such as protection for workers, became part of our
American culture. The history of unions in the United States exploded in the nineteenth century
with the founding of the National Labor Union (NLU) in 1866. Unlike today's unions, the NLU
was not exclusive to a particular type of worker. And although the NLU crumbled without
making significant gains in establishing workers' rights, its founding set an important precedent
in our country.Soon after, the Knights of Labor emerged in 1869. This group's membership
peaked at about 700,000 and its efforts were focused on addressing key issues such opposition to
child labor and demands for an eight-hour day. In the history of America's trade and labor unions,
the most famous union remains the American Federation of Labor (AFL), founded in 1886 by
Samuel Gompers. At its pinnacle, the AFL had approximately 1.4 million members. The AFL is
credited with successfully negotiating wage increases for its members and enhancing workplace
safety for all workers.
The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) under John L. Lewis and the larger AFL
federation underwent a huge expansion during World War II. The AFL-CIO merger occurred in
1955.Union membership and power peaked around 1970. At that time, private sector union
membership began a steady decline that continues today.
Labor unions are legally recognized as representatives of workers in many industries in the
United States. Their activity today centers on collective bargaining over wages, benefits, and
working conditions for their membership, and on representing their members in disputes with
management over violations of contract provisions. Larger unions also typically engage in
lobbying activities and electioneering at the state and federal level.
Most unions in the United States are aligned with one of two larger umbrella organizations:
the AFL-CIO created in 1955, and the Change to Win Federation which split from the AFL-CIO

in 2005. Both advocate policies and legislation on behalf of workers in the United States and
Canada, and take an active role in politics. The AFL-CIO is especially concerned with global
trade issues.
In 2014 there were 14.5 million members in the U.S., compared with 17.7 million in 1983. In
2013, the percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States (or total labor union
"density") was 11.3%, compared to 20.1% in 1983. From a global perspective, the density in
2010 was 11.4% in the U.S., 18.4% in Germany, 27.5% in Canada, and 70% in Finland. Union
membership in the private sector has fallen under 7%. levels not seen since 1932.
In the 21st century the most prominent unions are among public sector employees such as city
employees, government workers, teachers and police. Members of unions are disproportionately
older, male, and residents of the Northeast, the Midwest, and California. Union workers average
10-30% higher pay than non-union in the United States after controlling for individual, job, and
labor market characteristics.
Despite the erosion in their power and influence, labor unions are still proving their importance,
as they were instrumental in getting President Obama elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012. The
unions hope that Obama will be able to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which is a measure
of legislation that will greatly streamline and shorten the process currently in place that unions
must use to bring in new members. This act will effectively shift the balance of power in the
workplace in the unions' favor and allow their memberships to grow rapidly. Although the
possible impact that this could have on the economy is somewhat unclear, unions will continue
to play a role in the U.S. labor force for decades to come.
Although much smaller compared to their peak membership in the 1950s, American unions
remain a political factor, both through mobilization of their own memberships and through
coalitions with like-minded activist organizations around issues such as immigrant rights, trade
policy, health care, and living wage campaigns. Of special concern are efforts by cities and states
to reduce the pension obligations owed to unionized workers who retire in the
future. Republicans elected with Tea Party support in 2010, most notably Governor Scott
Walker of Wisconsin, have launched major efforts against public sector unions due in part to
state government pension obligations along with the allegation that the unions are too
powerful. States with higher levels of union membership tend to have higher median
incomes and standards of living. It has been asserted by scholars and the International Monetary
Fund that rising income inequality in the United States is directly attributable to the decline of
the labor movement and union membership.
4.2. Unionism in UK:
British trade unionism has a long and continuous history. There was hardly
any trade movement before 17th century. Trade unions in the United Kingdom

were first decriminalized under the recommendation of a Royal Commission

in 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the organizations was to the
advantage of both employers and employees. Legalized in 1871, the trade
union movement sought to reform socio-economic conditions for working
men in British industries, and the trade unions search for this led to the
creation of a Labor Representation Committee which effectively formed the
basis for today's Labour Party, which still has extensive links with the Trade
Union Movement in Britain. Margaret Thatcher's governments weakened the
powers of the unions in the 1980s, in particular by making it more difficult to
strike legally, and some within the British trade union movement criticized
Tony Blair's Labor government for not reversing some of Thatcher's changes.
Most British unions are members of the TUC, the Trades Union Congress
(founded in 1867), or where appropriate, the Scottish Trades Union Congress
or the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which are the country's principal
national trade union centers.
The Employment Relations Act protects union organization, the statutory
right to strike, and minimum employment standards. The legal status of the
trade unions is defined by the Trade Union and Labor Relations Act of 1974.
Restrictions on the power of the trade unions are embodied in the
Employment Acts of 1980 and 1982 and in the Trade Union Act of 1984. As of
2005, about 29% of Britain's workforce was unionized. In the public sector,
57% of the labor force belongs to a union, while in the private sector only
17% are union members. (
British trade union movement experienced growth in 20th century but this
growth was less steady and vulnerable to economic cycle. Trade Union
Membership in UK declined steeply in the 1980s and 1990s, falling from 13
million in 1979 to around 7.3 million in 2000. In September 2012 union
membership dropped below 6 million for the first time since the 1940s.
Union membership declined in parallel with the reduction in size of many
traditional industries which had been highly unionized, such as steel, coal,
printing, and the docks. In 2015, the Conservative government introduced a
new Trade Union Bill, which proposes stricter ballot thresholds for industrial
action, further restraints on picketing and a requirement that union members
opt in to political funds.
4.3. Unionism in Japan:
History of Japanese trade unions is relatively shorter than other developed
countries. Before Second World War there were several trade unions. Until
1945, labor movement remained weak, impeded by lack of legal rights, anti-

union legislation, management-organized factory councils, and political

divisions between cooperative and radical unionists. In the immediate
aftermath of the Second World War, the US Occupation authorities initially
encouraged the formation of independent unions. Legislation was passed
that enshrined the right to organize, and membership rapidly rose to 5
million by February 1947.The organization rate, however, peaked at 55.8% in
1949 and subsequently declined to 18.5% as of 2010.( The
continuing long-term reduction in union membership was caused by several
factors, including the restructuring of Japanese industry away from heavy
industries. Many people entering the work force in the 1980s joined smaller
companies in the tertiary sector, where there was a general disinclination
toward joining labor organizations. There was an reorganization in labor
movement from 1987 to 1991 from which emerged the present configuration
of three major labor union federations, along with other smaller national
union organizations.
Union membership in 2005 was about 10.3 million or 19.2% of the workforce.
Union strength is greatest in local government employees, automobile
workers, and electrical machinery workers. Most members are organized in
units called enterprise unions, which comprise the employees of a single
In Japan, the relationship between the typical labor union and the company
5.1 Historical Background of Union in Bangladesh
The British rulers introduced Trade Union Act, 1926. The main purpose of the Act was to
provide registration for trade unions and in certain respects. But the Act did not contain any
provision regarding strikes.-In 1929, the Trade Disputes Act put restrictions on strikes in public
utility services and laid provision for the establishment of tribunals to adjudicate upon the labor
disputes.-In 1947, the Industrial Disputes Act placed the conciliation and adjudication machinery
for the settlement of industrial disputes on a permanent footing.
The East Pakistan Trade Unions Act, 1965 was enacted repealing the Trade Unions Act, 1926.The Labor Disputes Act, 1965 was enacted.-Industrial Relations Ordinance, 1969 was enacted
integrating the above two Acts. Bangladesh Period (1971-onwards)-Government of Bangladesh
declared a labor policy in 1972. The right to strike and collective bargaining in the nationalized
industries was prohibited for six months by Presidential order no. 55 in May 1972.-In 1973, the
right to strike and lockout, as granted by IRO, 1969 was withdrawn.-In 1974 Act completely
suspended the democratic rights of workers by prohibiting trade union activities such as strikes,
lock-outs, collective bargaining.-The military regime of 1975 imposed restrictions on the rights
of collective bargaining.-The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Ordinance, 1977 liberalized the

Rights of Freedom of Association-The Labor Policy of 1980 restored the right to freedom of
association to a considerable extent-In 1982 the military regime banned trade union activities,
strikes, and right of freedom of association.
History of Trade Unions-Full trade union activities were restored by the democratic government
in 1991.-In 2006, an updated, consolidated and unified version of labor laws was enacted.During the Emergency in 2007-2008 that lasted for 23 months, trade unions and collective
bargaining were prohibited and the determination of collective bargaining agent could not be
made.-However, full trade union activities were restored by the democratic government in 2009.
Total number of unions Number of members unions/federations included National federation 32
1264 1,263,66Industrial federation 108 721 640,221Garments federation 15 80 50,14Basic union
5,242 - 2,069,61 12.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) works with the government, workers and
employers organizations to promote decent and productive employment opportunities for women
and men in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has been an active member State of the ILO since 22 June
1972 and has ratified 35 ILO Conventions including seven fundamental conventions.
The ILO opened its office in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 25 June 1973, and initially started working
on expanding income-earning opportunities through labour -based infrastructure development
and maintenance. More recent technical cooperation activities have focused on enhancing
working conditions and labour rights. Considerable emphasis is being placed on the ready-made
garment sector while other priority sectors include the shrimp and leather industries.
ILO also works to improve the national enabling environment for industry skills development
and the increased employability of young and adult women and men. In addition, it places
importance on enhancing social protection especially for migrant workers, children and
indigenous people.
ILO tripartite nature sees it work closely with the Government of Bangladesh, Bangladesh
Employers Federation (BEF), the National Coordination Committee for Workers Education
(NCCWE) and the Industrial Bangladesh Council (IBC). ILO also cooperates with many other
key actors in civil society, academic and research institutions, private sector and media.
As part of the UN system in Bangladesh, the ILO supports the Government of Bangladesh in
implementing its Five Year Plans and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) was an international trade union.
It came into being on 7 December 1949 following a split within the World Federation of Trade
Unions (WFTU), and was dissolved on 31 October 2006 when it merged with the World
Confederation of Labour (WCL) to form the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Prior to being dissolved, the ICFTU had a membership of 157 million members in 225 affiliated
organizations in 148 countries and territories.

ICFTU singled out Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, South Korea and the Philippines as
having "particularly" violent episodes. In Bangladesh three trade unionists were killed when
police intervened in a Sinha Textile Mill protest. In South Korea, Kim Tae-hwan, from
the Federation of Korean Trade Unions was run over and killed while on the picket line.
The Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC) in a national federation of trade
unions in Bangladesh. It was established in 1983.
The Bangladesh Jatio Sramik League is a national trade union federation in Bangladesh. It is
affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation. The President of the union is Sukur
Mahmud. Bangladesh Jatio Sramik League was founded in 1969 by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,It
is politically tied to the Awami League. The Union was absolved in 1975 with BAKSAL due to
an amendment to the constitution of Bangladesh. BJSL also had an armed wing LalBahini during
The Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal is a national trade union federation in Bangladesh. It is
affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation.BJSD is politically tied to
the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Anowar Hossain is the President of the federation and Nurul
Islam Khan Nasim is the General Secretary. Its central Office is located in Noya paltan, Dhaka.


Number of Members

Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress



The Bangladesh Jatiya Sramik League



The Bangladesh Jatiyotabadi Sramik Dal



The Bangladesh Workers Federation (BWF)


The Jatiya Sramik Party


5.2 Public and Private Sectors Unions in Bangladesh

A trade union is an organization created to improve conditions in the workplace. Whether the
issue is wages, sick time, or medical benefits, trade unions negotiate with employers on behalf of
union members. When employees and employers are unable to reach an agreement, trade union
leadership works with employers to negotiate a compromise. Regardless of the outcome, all
members of the trade union must follow the agreed upon solution.
In earlier times when industry was on a small scale and the few apprentice and craftsmen whom
the master craftsmen employed usually lived with him, conditions of employment and any
grievances were easily discussed individually or in small groups and quickly settled. Modern
industry is very difficult. It is organized on a large a scale, and the maintenance of the close
direct relation between employee and employer for the settling of differences is difficult. The
status and security which workers had in earlier communities have gone and in their place they
need the protection of trade unions. Considerably, to answer the question why trade unions are
organized; we have to say that, it is created to bargain and ensure the status, rights, wages and
demands of workers of the modern world of industry. Thus modern industrial policies are
complex due to the expansion on business; it is very much needed to have a group of people or
volunteers who actively work for the labor negotiations. So it is clear that trade unions are
growing rapidly in an economy because of the expansion of business and economic growth.
From the starting of industrial economy trade union is the most common figure in a country.
Trade unions are the controller of the labor force of an industry which works for the betterment
of the countrys trade by ensuring the right of the labor force. The economic importance of trade
unions in developing countries is not commensurate with the size of their membership.
For an example in private sector The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters
Association (BGMEA) is one of the largest trade associations in the country representing the
readymade garment industry, particularly the woven garments, knitwear and sweater sub-sectors
with equal importance. Starting its journey in 1983 today BGMEA takes care of an industry that
is at the backbone of Bangladeshs economy. Since the inception, BGMEA is dedicated to
promote and facilitate the apparel industry through policy advocacy to the government, services
to members, ensuring workers rights and social compliance at factories.
BGMEA works with the vision to develop the RMG industry of Bangladesh and the economy of
the country. Having such vision BGMEA chalked out the following missions and its strategic
direction is paved accordingly
Firstly, to protect and promote the interests of the industry; thus ensuring a sustained growth in
the foreign exchange earnings of the country.
Secondly, BGMEA is committed to ensure all legitimate rights and privileges of the garment
workers. The association also strives toward the betterment of the society and environment.

5.3 Political, Governmental and Employers Influences on Union

The behavior of Bangladeshi trade unions is characterized by political activism, and momentous
strikes, called hartals there, have played a crucial part in most political changes in this country. In
Bangladesh, the share of the active population concerned by unionization was officially
estimated between 3 and 4 % in 1992. However, this figure is largely irrelevant for an evaluation
of their power, as the urban population was only about 18 % of the total Bangladeshi population
in 1995, and virtually no trade unions exist in the rural sector. Within the urbanite working
population, and especially in the formal sector, the picture is quite different. Almost 100% of the
workers and employees of the public sector are unionized, while one out of six of the wage
earners in the private formal sector are unionized. The aim of this discussion is to provide a
simple theoretical framework for analyzing this dimension of trade union activity, and to test its
main implication in the case of Bangladesh.
The history of trade union movement in Bangladesh date back to early 19th century when
modern industrial concept entered into the sub-Indian continent. Like many other movement, the
trade union movement also was similar in India Bangladesh. The number of trade unions which
was 411, increased into 1174 in 1971 after the bloody liberation war and the independence of
Bangladesh. Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra (BTUC) which was backed by the socialist party,
it was nationalized after the war of liberation. Awami league got the governing power and
changed the constitutions of trade union. From that very day political influence was imposed on
the trade unions of Bangladesh. Democratic functions which were backed in the 60s were
changing by the aggression of ruling party men. Unions were forcibly captured. Political,
administrative and managerial influences make it difficult to work independently for trade
unions. From1975-1983, 217 factories were privatized. For that reason there was no influence of
trade union on those. But after all systems, outsiders influence has made alive the trade unions.
The jute and cotton sectors, which were nationalized in 1971, in the wake of the struggle for
independence, and then privatized to some extent in the 1980s, are the most unionized sectors.
Unions are also important in the transport sector and in various services. As emphasized by
Pencavel (1995), among others, unions in developing countries get their power from their
privileged relationship with political parties and in many cases with the government. The
Bangladeshi trade unions are no exception, and are well known for their lobbying the
government rather than acting vis--vis the private sector.
The influence of unions goes beyond the standard reach of industrial relations, and extends to
the political arena. All the political parties, even the smallest ones, exert some control over a
trade union. The three main political parties have their own trade union federation, which
accounts for 64 % of the unionized workers. The unions have played an active role in most major
political events of this country, like the massive demonstrations (hartals) that brought General

Ershad down in 1990, or those which pushed the democratically elected government of Begum
Khaleda Zia to resign in 1996. According tothe World Bank (2001), an average of 21 full
working days was lost annually due to hartals in the 1980s, and an average of 47 full working
days per year in the 1990s. This report estimates that about 5 % of GDP is lost on average in the
1990s. Since independence of Bangladesh, no major development took place in the history of
labor legislation till the enactment of the Bangladesh Labor Act, 2006. The Bangladesh Labor
Act, 2006 is a major and comprehensive enactment regarding industrial relation system-- partly
as a response to demand of stakeholders for improving regulatory framework on trade union and
partly by demand for codification of existing labor laws in order to avoid overlapping and
inconsistencies. It brought some significant changes in industrial relation system. However, the
Act has not been able to bring the desired changed due to its in-built weaknesses, suspension of
many labor rights under state of emergency and lack of institutional capacity to implement the
laws. Still in todays era the trade union of Bangladesh iscaptured by the power parties of
different interested arena.
Different scholars have defined a trade union in different ways. Sydney and Beatrice Webb have
defined a trade union as a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of
maintaining or improving the conditions of their working lives. A trade union is also called as a
labor union. A labor union is an organization of workers who have banned or unified together to
achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its voluntary;
bargains with the employer on behalf of the union members and collective bargain with the
employers. This may include the negotiation of working conditions like wages, rules, time, and
job security etc. the agreements are strictly negotiated by the union leader on behalf of the whole
trade union with the employers. In some cases nonmember workers also bargain with the
5.4 Union in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs)
In order to stimulate rapid economic growth of the country, particularly through industrialization,
the government has adopted an 'Open Door Policy' to attract foreign investment to Bangladesh.
The BEPZA is the official organ of the government to promote, attract and facilitate foreign
investment in the EPZs. Besides, BEPZA as the competent Authority performs inspection &
supervision of the compliances of the enterprises related to social & environmental issues, safety
& security at work place in order to maintain harmonious labour-management & industrial
relations in EPZs. The primary objective of an EPZ is to provide special areas where potential
investors would find a congenial investment climate free from cumbersome procedures.
The cabinet finally gave the nod to the draft Bangladesh EPZ Labour Law 2016, with provisions
for forming legal trade unions in factories inside of the Export Processing Zones (EPZ).
Allowing trade unions in factories was the last of the 16 conditions set by the US to be fulfilled
by the Bangladesh government for regaining the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) in the
US market. Bangladesh government has already submitted the progress report on the
implementation of 16 conditions to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the chief

trade negotiation body for the US government, for reinstatement of the GSP privilege. The GSP
was suspended for Bangladesh in June, 2013, due to serious shortcomings in workplace safety
and labour rights. Apart from suspending the GSP benefit after the Rana Plaza building collapse,
the US government gave the 16 conditions as Bangladesh Action Plan.
The government made delays in allowing unions in the EPZs, as the foreign investors were
divided on the issue. Investors of some countries said the unions would hamper the production
while others argued that the unions would establish labour rights. If this draft, which amends
EPZ Workers' Welfare and Industrial Relations Act, 2010, is passed by parliament and made into
law, the Workers' Welfare Associations (WWA) in factories inside of the EPZs would act as the
legal trade unions.
The workers' associations had no legal status earlier but the amendment would give them the
legal status of the Collective Bargaining Agent in factories inside of the EPZs, said Nazma Binte
Alamgir, general manager, public relations of the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority
(BEPZA), the regulating body for the EPZs. Under the new rules, 30 percent workers would
have to ask the BEPZA, filling in a form, for the formation of the Workers' Welfare Associations,
Nazma Alamgir said.
Once the BEPZA verifies the applications and allows the WWAs, there would be a referendum
among the workers for holding a polls to elect WWA leaders. Workers would only be allowed to
hold the polls after the referendum decides that the workers want a WWA. However, Sirajul
Islam Rony, a member of the minimum wage board for garment workers, said the amendment to
the law would allow partial trade unionism in factories, not the full rights due to the provision for
But, at the same time giving the legal status to the workers' welfare association as unions will
also allow guaranteed benefits to the workers. The workers will enjoy all benefits if any factory
is shut down for any reason, he said. We want equal labour law for workers inside and outside
of the EPZs in our country, said Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik
Federation, a garment workers' platform. I do not agree with many provisions in the
amendment, she said.
Currently, more than 4.40 lakh workers are employed in eight EPZs across the country with 453
factories in operation. A total of 121 factories are under construction there. There is a $3.74
billion investment from home and abroad, Nazma Alamgir said, adding that the factories
exported goods worth $6.11 billion in 2014-15 fiscal year. The Bangladesh EPZ Labour Law,
2016, also has a provision for forming a permanent wage board for workers, said Cabinet
Secretary M Shafiul Islam yesterday after the cabinet meeting held at the Secretariat with Prime
Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters, he said workers would get various advantages, including retirement benefits,
mandatory group insurance, compensation in case of deaths, cash payment for earned leave, full
salary as festival bonus, and maternity leave for 16 weeks. He said the family members of a

worker would get Tk 2 lakh compensation if he or she dies on duty and Tk 2.25 lakh for any
worker for his or her permanent disabilities caused by accidents at work. Shafiul said the labour
organisations in EPZs would be named Sramik Kalyan Samity. The cabinet secretary said the
proposed law would ensure the right to joint wage bargaining for workers where their
representatives would be able to bargain directly with the owners for fixing wages, working
hours, appointments, and conditions for appointments and observing strikes.
The law is going to be framed in light of the existing Labour Law 2006 and in line with the
central bargaining agent (CBA) and trade union, the cabinet secretary told reporters. The
executive chairman of BEPZA would act as the chief of the permanent wage board for fixing the
minimum wages for workers. The wage broad, if it deemed necessary, can reorganize the wages
of the workers, he added. The government had earlier formed a committee to formulate a law in
line with the Bangladesh Labour Law, 2006. The draft law has a total of 16 chapters and 202
6.0 Summary and conclusion:
Trade unions play a significant role in directly shaping peoples
working lives in Britain today, although their influence in this respect has diminished in recent
times. The proportion of workers who are members of unions fell in the first decade of the
twenty-first century, although this decline was modest, and far less dramatic than the decline of
the preceding two decades. The exposure of British firms and industries to greater market
pressures, a growing trend in outsourcing and the growth in atypical employment, employer
sponsored forms of participation and representation, and the imposition of legal constraints on
the ability of unions to recruit, organize, collectively bargain and take industrial action, has all
contributed to a sharp fall in membership. Despite the adoption of various internal strategies and
the introduction of laws encouraging employers to recognize unions, the downward trend in
membership nevertheless continued in recent years, albeit at a slower pace. How unions respond
to the challenges and opportunities presented by the changing nature of work and employment
relations will be decisive in determining their level of influence within the workplace in the
coming years.
USA, Japan and U.K are major economic agents in the epoch of globalization. Ever-expanding
mutual integration between countries results in diffusion of ideas, practices and techniques in a
great variety of things including business and society, culture and politics. Industrial relations
generally and trade unions in particular are also subject to transformation as a consequence of
cross-border influences.
Unions in Japan, USA and U.K albeit having some traits in common differ notably in their
nature, structure, origin, roles, levels of unionization, bargaining practices, degree of
politicization and government interference.
Japanese unions are enterprise-based and thus represent firms to which they relate. In the US
unions at large are of industrial nature hence reflect relevant industry. In U.K, unions are

organized into three federations which distinguish between white-collar, blue-collar and
professional workers.
Unions in the US and (to some extent) in Japan are mostly involved in business unionism: wage
negotiations and other workplace matters are their main concerns. Swedish unions are
contrasting in a sense that they are also mindful of improving general working environment and
promoting industrial and economic democracy. Their activities are described as political
Comparative analysis of unions reveals that the role of unions in Swedish employment relations
is still pre-eminent. In Japan unions are reasonably important whilst in America unions are of
secondary significance in determining industrial relations.
In this paper, the peculiarities of unions position in employment relations across U.K, the United
States and Japan were discussed. Particular emphasis was placed on examination of activities,
roles and structures of unions and their role in collective bargaining in those nations. The
comparative analysis shows that although there are similarities, unions in places examined differ
remarkably and so do the industrial relations. Particular dissimilarities are found in nature of
unions in three countries, their origin and structure, place in the national society and economy as
well as in tasks and objectives of their work. Levels of union membership also vary as do
methods of organization and techniques of bargaining.
However, in the era of globalization, when industrial relations, along with capital and labor
easily cross national borders, differences become not that intense.
Collation of unions indicates that the role of unions in Swedish employment relations is still
paramount. In Japan unions are reasonably important whilst in America unions are of secondary
significance in shaping industrial relations.
Trade Union Movement in Bangladesh has very long past, as many 23 central federations till
now being registered. No central federation has strength that they can launch nationwide struggle
independently. They do not have such organizational or financial resource either. Almost all
political party has a trade union. All these except a few trade union, mostly depend on support
and financial help from the political party. That is also a reason that the ruling partys trade union
center has much more affiliate unions than others. When there is shift of government will be shift
in affiliation also. The trade unions here also depend on support from International Trade Union
Federation and Foundations. They get funds from International Trade Union Federation and
Foundations for holding seminars, publications and other activities. The get free passage to go
abroad to attend seminar and meetings The foreign visit is so frequent for some trade union
leaders that they are almost occupy with arrangements of travel procure visa, preparing
seminar paper and others and left hardly any time to do trade union work. It is almost impossible
for the business enterprises to ensure sustainable growth and compete internationally

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