Country Report: Bangladesh Amena Mahmuda BJSD Bangladesh is a land of long heritage and ancient civilization. It has a developed cultural background. At the same time it bears a history of long time oppression and non-independence. As a part of Indian subcontinent it was ruled by the British Emperor for about 200 years, then the Pakistani rulers ran severe oppression on it and finally after a nine months long liberation war against the Pakistani Army the country got her independence in 1971. Political Structure of Bangladesh Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy with a unicameral legislature. Elections hold under a caretaker government led and formed independently by the immediate past Chief Justice of the time. The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a unitary, sovereign republic comprising three basic organs the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. The President is the Head of State and is elected by the members of Parliament. Present BNP led coalition government took the sit after gaining a two-third majority in the last 1st October, 2001 General election. Bangladesh Awami League, the immediate past ruling party is now the main opposition party in the parliament. The head of government is Prime Minister. The executive power of the Republic is exercised by or on the advice of the Prime Minister who commands the support of the majority members of Parliament. The cabinet is collectively accountable to the Parliament. The National Assembly or The Jatiya Sangsad has 300 members elected for a five year term in single-seat constituencies. There are 30 reserved seats for women in the parliament. Social Structure of Bangladesh The country's is a land of social values and norms with a rich cultural heritage. Many people maintain combined family life. It's a moderate society. Most of the people are Muslim, but religious harmony exists here. Society is conservative but not rigid. Mordernisation is always welcomed but the own culture, values and norms are never forgotten. Bangladesh has made major progress in improving the standard of living of its people over the past 20 years. It has secured a succees in reducing the fertility rate from 7 to 2.9 births per woman; Infant mortality rate has declined to 51 per thousand. Life expectancy is now 68 and 69 years for males and females respectively. The population growth rate came down from over 3% in the 1970s to 1.48% in 2001. Primary education enrolments have doubled in less than 20 years. The adult illiteracy rate has reduced to 35%. Progress is still very much required as the UNDP Human Development Index places the Bangladesh in 145th position out of 162 countries. Economic Structure of Bangladesh Bangladesh is a Least Developed Country of South Asia, it has paved its way to development by coping of with the present globalised economy. Bangladesh is now following free market economy but a number of industries are still in public sector. So it can be termed as a country of mixed economy. Bangladesh is a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and actively involved in the process and its activities. The country is playing an important role in the international trade negotiation talk and WTO activities as leader of the Least Developing Countries (LDC). The country has been actively reforming its economic, trade policies, taxation rules and system since late eighties to fit itself with the WTO mechanism. Agriculture is the dominant here. 34.6% of total GDP earned from agriculture. Industialisation paved its speed in sixties but the neo-global economic pattern has sent the economy of Bangladesh in peril. Globalisation has opened new fields of business and trade horizon but at the same time because of open market economy many industrial goods have lost the local market itself. The government has taken the policy of privatisation as a result many factories are being closed down causing a large number of workers jobless. Despite sustained domestic and international efforts to improve economic and demographic prospects, Bangladesh remains one of the world's poorest, most densely populated, and least developed nations. BASIC FACTS Bangladesh : Basic Data as on 22nd January, 2001 (Population Census; Enumerated) Total Population (in million) : 123.1 Male (in million) : 62.7 Female (in million) : 60.4 Annual Growth Rate (%) : 1.47 Sex Ratio (Males per 100 females) : 104 Density (Per sq. km) : 834 Life Expectancy at birth : 61 years Urban Population (in million) : 28.80 GDP in 2000-2001(current market price) : 2535.46 Billion taka Per Capita GDP (current market price) : $ 364 GDP Growth Rate (2001-02) : 4.80% Poverty Rate (%) : 44.7 Infant Mortality (per 1000) 1998 : 57 Persons Per Hospital Bed : 3083 Persons Per Physician : 4521 Crude Birth Rate (per 1000) 1998 : 19.9 Crude Birth Rate (per 1000) 1998 : 19.9 Crude Death Rate (per 1000) 1998 : 4.8 Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000) 1998 : 57 Fertility Rate (%) : 2.5 Access to Safe Water : 56% Access to Sanitation : 48% (Source Statistical year book published on December 2002) Labour Market Situation (labour Force Survey 1999-2000) published on August 2002) Total Civilian Labour Force (in million) : 60.3 Male (in million) : 37.5 Female (in million) : 22.8 Employed Population (in million) : 58.1 Unemployed Population (in million) : 2.2 Crude Activity Rate (%) : 47.3 Unemployment Rate (%) : 3.7 Underemployment Rate (%) : 31.9 Child Labour (5-14 years) in million : 6.9 Percentage of total (C.L.F.) : 12.9 Youth Labour Force (15-29 years) in million : 20.3 Percentage of total (C.L.F.) : 38.3 Female Labour Force (in million) : 22.8 Percentage of total (C.L.F.) : 32.2 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishery (%) : 63.2 Mining & Quarrying (%) : 0.6 Manufacturing (%) : 7.4 Electricity, Water & Gas (%) : 0.2 Construction (%) : 2.0 Trade, Hotels & Restaurant (%) : 12.1 Transport & Communication (%) : 4.6 Finance & Business (%) : 0.7 Community Personnel Service & Others (%) : 9.9 World Rankings: In terms of global rankings, this placed Bangladesh 33 out of 191 countries in terms of GDP, 8 out of 191 countries in terms of population and 150 out of 191 countries in terms of GDP per capita. Trade union structure The trade union structure in Bangladesh is a three-tire distribution. National Federation: It represents the tripartite bodies of the country in intervening in national policy formulation and creating pressure in protecting the rights and interests of the working class people and the trade union activists as well. At present the country has 29 National Trade Union Federation. Sramik Karmochari Oikya Parishad-SKOP is the platform of joint action on national issues on labour market and trade union in which all the national federations are equally involved. Industrial Federation: It is the body of unions from the same industrial sector. It deals with common problems and demands of the sector. Basic unions within the sector are its members. At present the country has a total of 103 Industrial Federations. 928 Basic unions are working under these federations. Basic Union: This is the main union formed by the direct participation of the workers. Grass root level activists are the members of this workplace based unions. Elected body of industry of factory level unions works as Collective Bargaining Agent- CBA. Total Basic Unions : 5242 Total Members of Basic Unions : 19,69,614 Statistics provided by the government does not segregate women membership in trade union from the total membership. But it is commonly said that 15% of total members are women. In recent years following the motivational activities number of women participation in trade union is raising. But at present 13 national federations have their women's committees. These committees with the support of BILS overwhelmingly are working in increasing the participation of women in trade unions. All these thirteen major NTUCs are associated with Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies- BILS, a common platform of National Trade Union Federation, which works for the development of trade union activities in the country through education, training and motivational activities. Use/applications of IT Information Technology is yet to be familiar among the trade union activists in Bangladesh. Use of IT is very poor, Very few workers or leaders could managed an orientation on this particular sector so far. But the use of this modern technology is highly required in the field of trade union. This is needed to bring this neglected sector under the light of modern days and to offer an opportunity to trade union people to cope with the technology. TU Training on IT The ILO in Dhaka recently organised two training of this kind for the mid level activists from different national trade union federations. Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies-BILS offers some scopes to its associated NTUCs in making their leaders and activists familiar with the technology. There are free access to the NTUC activists to BILS in learning IT and getting email and inter net facilities. But all these are very few of the requirement. Major Problems in Introducing IT Introduction of IT in trade union sector of Bangladesh is seemingly a difficult job yet as most of the leaderships because of their mind set up still to be friendly with IT situations. Flow of youth in leadership is still very poor. Even then the sector is now thinking for introducing the technology but the effort is not a collective one. Individual organizational efforts undertaken, which is yet to bring a effective change. Major issues concerning the introduction 1. To ensure an information flow within the organisation; 2. Networking among and between the organisations; 3. Ensure a better media relation 4. Cope with the challenging world of work. 5. Ensure self fitness with the present changing world. Current Priorities 1. Trained manpower 2. Infrastructure Development support 3. Awareness raising activities highlighting the importance of IT Conclusion Most of the federations are financially weak and don't have in-house development programmes for the activists. Due to lack of capacity and resources the trade unions are unable to provide necessary services to their members. Education level of the workers are not in a satisfactory level. But the activists have all desire to overcome the situation.
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