ILO Activities in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a densely populated country of about 148 million people. According to the
United Nations Development Programme‘s Human Development Index, which compares
achievements in life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income,
Bangladesh ranks 140th among 177 countries? The most recent national Household Income
and Expenditure Survey (2005) found that about 40 per cent of the population was poor, and
more than one-quarter was extremely poor. Poverty may have worsened since then as a result
of natural disasters (two major floods and a cyclone in 2007) and a spike in food prices
during 2007–2008. It has created risks for the country‘s garment industry and for Bangladeshi
expatriate labor, both of which are important for the economy and for employment. The
nature and management of external shocks—such as natural disasters and global economic
volatility—have potential implications for employment and working conditions.
The ILO formulates international labor standards in the form of Conventions and
Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labor rights: freedom of association,
the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labor, equality of opportunity
and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work
Bangladesh became independent in 1971. After that Bangladesh has been an active member
State of the ILO since 22 June 1972 and has ratified 33 ILO Conventions including seven
fundamental conventions. ILO contributes in various sectors with effectively. Such as; Child
labor, Equality and discrimination, Green jobs, Informal economy, International Labor
Standards, Labor migration, Safety and health at work, Skills and employability, Workers‘
and Employers‘ Organizations, Improving skills training and entrepreneurship for enhanced
employability and livelihoods, Improving coverage of social protection and rights for workers
in selected sectors, Combating child labor with priority focus on the worst forms of child
labor & Strengthening social dialogue and tripartism.
A country mission to Bangladesh will enable detailed interviews of key constituents and
stakeholders, development and implementing partners. Still now ILO has been performing to
ensure all the basic needs of deprived people as well as women & child.
Scope of the article
The role and relevance of the ILO in Bangladesh, its niche and comparative
advantage, and partnership approach
The role and effectiveness of the national tripartite constituents and UN partners in
promoting decent work
The focus and coherence of the country programme design and strategies
evidence of direct and indirect use of ILO‘s contributions and support at national level
(outcomes); evidence of pathways towards longer term impact
The efficiency and adequacy of organizational arrangements to deliver the ILO‘s
programme in Bangladesh
Methodology of the article
Market research is generally either primary or secondary. Here we use both types of data.
Those are as follows.
Primary market research is when a company carries out research first hand. It is also specific
to your type of product/service. This type of research can also be called field research.
Some forms of primary market research are as follows:
Interviews (can be done one-to-one, in a group or over the internet)
Focus Group/Consumer Panel - asking customers how they feel about their products
In secondary research, the company uses information from other sources that has already
been researched by somebody else. This type of research can also be called desk research.
Some forms of secondary market research are as follows:
Journals - specialist magazines
other companies financial reports
Objective of the article
International labor organization (ILO) is a voluntary organization especially for the least
developed countries like Bangladesh. Its main objectives are to ensure the basic rights of the
worker, women, & child. By completing the assignment we learnt about ILO. Some key
points are as follows:
To know about ILO
To know about ILO activities in Bangladesh
To know about the performance level of ILO
To know about the problems of Bangladesh
To know about the total fields of ILO
activities in Bangladesh.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) is the UN specialized agency which seeks the
promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights. It was
founded in 1919 and is the only surviving major creation of the Treaty of Versailles which
brought the League of Nations into being and it became the first specialized agency of the
UN in 1946.
The ILO formulates international labor standards in the form of Conventions and
Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labor rights: freedom of association,
the right to organize, collective bargaining, abolition of forced labor, equality of opportunity
and treatment, and other standards regulating conditions across the entire spectrum of work
related issues. It provides technical assistance primarily in the fields of:
Vocational training and vocational rehabilitation;
Labor law and industrial relations;
Labor statistics and occupational safety and health.
It promotes the development of independent employers' and workers' organizations and
provides training and advisory services to those organizations. Within the UN system, the
ILO has a unique tripartite structure with workers and employers participating as equal
partners with governments in the work of its governing organs.
ILO Background in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has been an active member State of the ILO since 22 June 1972 and has ratified
33 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 labor-based infrastructure development and maintenance.
Recent technical cooperation activities have focused on alleviating poverty and creating
employment opportunities through technical vocational education and training reform,
combating worst forms of child labor, promoting green jobs, improving occupational safety
and health standards, and protecting the rights of migrant workers. Since the opening of the
office, the ILO together with the Government of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Employers‘
Federation (BEF), and the National Coordination Committee for Workers‘ Education
(NCCWE), has been working towards promoting decent and productive employment
opportunities for women and men in Bangladesh. In addition, the ILO 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 Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) and in achieving the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs).
The Bangladesh DWCP contributes to the achievement of the United Nations Development
Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2006-2020 especially in the areas of Education and Pro-
Poor Growth, Social Protection, and Gender Equality and Advancement of Women.
Total ILO activities in Bangladesh
The main activities include technical and vocational education and training reform project
which contributes to skills and employability, the urban informal economy programmed on
combating child labor, national policy on occupational safety and health, gender equality and
discrimination at work, and capacity building of tripartite constituents through training/
fellowship programmers. Most importantly, the ILO is promoting green jobs initiative in
Bangladesh, and protection of overseas workers through safe migration.
The Bangladesh Decent Work Country Programmed is being implemented, for the period
2006-2009, in close co-operation with ILO‘s tripartite constituents: the Government,
Bangladesh Employers‘ Federation and the National Coordination Committee for Workers‘
Education. The four key outcomes are:
Improving skills training and entrepreneurship for enhanced employability and
Improving coverage of social protection and rights for workers in selected sectors;
Combating child labor with priority focus on the worst forms of child labor;
Strengthening social dialogue and tripartism.
However, ILO implements the following activities in our country.
Equality and discrimination
International Labor Standards
Safety and health at work
Skills and employability
Workers‘ and Employers‘ Organizations
Promoting indigenous and tribal people‘s rights
Disaster recovery and livelihoods
HIV and AIDS in the workplace
IPEC Action in Bangladesh
ILO Dhaka stuff
ILO activities in Bangladesh are in strong position. Its area of application is increasing day by
day. The ILO-Dhaka Office is to arrange an itinerary for a review team to have a
meeting/interview as appropriate with the following (as appropriate) during the review
ILO-Dhaka‘s director and staff responsible for backstopping Bangladesh DWCP and
Relevant Bangladesh government agencies (Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Planning,
Workers‘ organization (National Trade Union Federations, National Coordination
Committee for Workers‘
Employers‘ organization (Bangladesh Employers Federation)
Other UN agencies
Mr André BOGUI Director
Mr Gagan RAJBHANDARI Deputy Director
Mr T I M Nurunnabi KHAN Programme Officer
Mr Pratik R. BISHI Admin & Finance Officer
Mr Saidul ISLAM Programme Assistant
Mr Sahabuddin KHAN Programme Assistant
Mr Md Nazrul Islam MIAH Administrative & HR Assistant
Mr Mohammad Firoz MONDAL Finance Assistant
Mr Niamat ALI Secretary to Director
Ms Banosree BISWAS Sr. Secretary - Programme Section
The ILO-Dhaka Office will facilitate all the logistic arrangement including organizing a
stakeholder workshop where relevant internal and external colleagues (tripartite constituents
and partners) can analyze and discuss the ILO‘s work in the country and for the review team
to share the preliminary findings.
The Government of Bangladesh is currently the deputy member of the ILO Governing Body.
Mr. M.A. Mannan MP, a former trade union leader, is the Minister of Labour and
Employment. Mr. Md. Sirajul Islam is the Secretary of the Ministry. ILO assistance to the
Ministry includes programmes in the area of international labour standards, child labour,
skills training, women's empowerment and health, industrial relations, and occupational
safety and health.
ILO's main focal point is the Bangladesh Employers Federation (BEF) which presents more
than 90 percent of the employers in the country. It is affiliated with the International
Organization of Employers (IOE). Mr. A.S.M. Quasem is the current President and Mr. C.K.
Hyder is the Secretary General. ILO provides assistance to employers in the areas of human
resources management, occupational safety and health, industrial relations, and non-
discrimination in employment. Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters
Association (BGMEA), which is receiving assistance from ILO in the area of child labour, is
a member of BEF.
There are over 22 national trade union federations in the country of which four are ICFTU
affiliates. The trade union movement is severely fragmented and politicized. Unionization in
the private sector industries is generally low and participation of women in the trade unions is
even lower. The ILO has encouraged the formation of the Bangladesh National Committee
for Women Workers‘ Development and continued to provide support for its capacity
building. Currently, sixteen federations have formed a loose group known as the National
Coordination Committee on Workers' Education (NCCWE). ILO has been collaborating with
the NCCWE in various activities which include training courses, workshops and seminars on
collective bargaining, industrial relations, leadership development, and awareness about
labour law and trade union rights.
1. Decent work country programme
The ILO regional office for Asia & the pacific & the ILO country office for Bangladesh
organized a review of the Bangladesh DWCP (2006-2009) to take stock of the progress
achieved, the constrains encountered, lesions learned, & to identify where & how
improvements can be made for future programming. The extensive & participatory
consultations with ILO constituents with ILO constituents & other partners were held
throughout the review process.
The criteria used for the review of the overall performance of the DWCP includes the role
and relevance of ILO in Bangladesh, its niche and comparative advantage, tripartite
participation and partnership, the focus and coherent of the programme‘s design and
strategies, the evidence of the direct and indirect results of ILO‘s programe in Bangladesh,
and knowledge mgt. & sharing.
The following are the objective of the decent work;
To obtain baseline information for guidance in the development of concrete
interventions at a later stage, including the assessment of needs for comprehensive
awareness raising interventions;
To develop a Long Term Perspective Plan by considering the recommendations of the
ILO-SDC Regional Symposium on Deployment of Workers Overseas : A Shared
Responsibility and the IOM-UNWOMEN Regional Dialogue on Implementation of
International Instruments on Protecting Rights of Migrants and prepare a short and
long term road-map for their implementation;
To consult broadly on major key issues and concerns that will underline project
interventions; including but not limited to law and policy review and revision;
decentralization of foreign employment information and processing services ; and
program design to meet the special needs of women migrant workers at all stages of
To initiate training and capacity building of officers who are likely to be involved in
project implementation, including the sharing of experiences on policies and practices
of other migrant source countries for possible application in Bangladesh ;
To launch information campaigns on Government of Bangladesh‘s overseas
employment program and its institutional frameworks.
This short term project helped to achieve the following planned outputs - a needs
assessment to guide strategy for a comprehensive awareness raising (pre-recruitment
and pre-departure stages) for migrant workers; development of a long term
perspective plan and a work plan for short term and long term Implementation; three
broad-based technical consultations that were held by ILO, IOM and UNWOMEN to
review existing policies and identify gaps in policy and practice; a study tour of the
Philippines and Sri Lanka by senior government officials ; promotion and branding of
roles of existing district employment offices and the government‘s Bureau of
Manpower, Employment and Training and a radio campaign for using the services of
district manpower offices.
2. Eliminate Child Labor
The Government of Bangladesh ratified the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of
Child Labour (WFCL) in 2001. Although prohibited by the Labour Act (2006), nearly 3.2
million children aged 5-17 work in Bangladesh (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 2003). Out
of these child labourers, 1.3 million are engaged in hazardous work. The vast majority of
them are found in informal sectors, relegating workers in general and child labourers in
particular to hazardous and exploitative working conditions.
To address these conditions, the ILO International Programme on Elimination of Child
Labour (IPEC), ADB and UNICEF supported the Government of Bangladesh in developing a
National Time-Bound Programme (TBP) towards eliminating all forms of worst forms of
child labour by 2015.
The programme strategies include development and implementation of the regulatory and
monitoring mechanisms, and provision of non-formal education, skills development training
for children trapped in the WFCL, socio-economic empowerment programmes for their
families, and workplace improvement programmes
3. Create equality and eliminate discrimination
Although the women‘s participation in the labour force is lagging behind that of men, more
and more women are entering the labour force. However, they often work at the lowest level
of the jobs hierarchy in low pay, low status jobs with little employment security. The
majority of women workers are engaged in the informal economy where the application of
social protection and legislation is negligent.
Serious gender-based inequalities continued to prevail in the labour market, as well as
violence and sexual harassment against women. According to the ILO Study in 2008, women
earn an average of 21 per cent less per hour than men. Equal opportunities for women existed
neither in employment nor in education nor in vocational training.
In addition, women continue to be mainly responsible for household duties and family care
which add many hours every day to their workload despite their increasing role in earning
money. It is important for men and women to work together to promote gender equality at
work and at home, and to address social and cultural traditions regarding the role of women
in society and resulting occupational segregation, in order to promote gender equality in
The ILO Dhaka Office in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the
Bangladesh Employers‘ Federation (BEF), the National Coordination Committee for
Workers‘ Education (NCCWE), and social partners, works to promote gender equality and to
eliminate discrimination in the world of work. The current activities include:
Mainstreaming gender in the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP)
Promoting women‘s participation and gender equality in trade union movement: A
study and a consultative workshop for planning
Promoting gender equality in the Bangladesh Employers‘ Federation (BEF)
Capacity building of government, employers‘ and workers‘ organizations on
promoting gender equality and eliminating violence against women including sexual
harassment at work
Action against Sexual Harassment: ILO component of the UN Joint Programme on
Violence against Women
Promoting and protecting rights of female and male migrant workers
4. Green Jobs
The ‗Green Jobs Initiative in Bangladesh‘ was officially launched on December 4, 2008,
jointly by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and the ILO. Green jobs are found in
many sectors of the economy, ranging from energy supply and recycling of waste to
agriculture, construction and transportation sectors.
The ILO Regional Office for the Asia and the Pacific is implementing the green jobs
initiative in three countries namely, Bangladesh, China and India. In Bangladesh the project
is being implemented in collaboration with the tripartite constituents; the Government,
Bangladesh Employers Federation, National Coordination Committee for Workers Education,
and private partners such as Grameen Shakti and Waste Concern.
The primary objective is to create linkages between employment and environment policies
and to bring them closer to sustainable development. Green jobs reduce the environmental
impact of enterprises and economic sectors, ultimately to levels that are sustainable, while
also meeting the standards required for ‗decent work‘. At the regional level, the project aims
to develop a network of documentation and to share experiences and good practices.
In Bangladesh, the following studies on green jobs have been conducted:
1. ―Preliminary assessment of green jobs in renewable energy, waste management and
construction‖ by Waste Concern;
2. ―Assessment of green jobs in the agriculture sector‖ by agriculture consultant
Currently, the third study by Waste Concern is under process for an in depth analysis on the
three sectors: renewable energy, waste management and construction, with particular focus
on the Value Chain Assessment (VCA) of the renewable energy sector.
In addition to this, Grameen Shakti is developing the training manuals for women
entrepreneurs, and conducting training of women for promotion of green jobs in the solar
5. Informal Economy
Another activity by ILO is informal economy. Through the Urban Informal Economy (UIE)
project, ILO is helping Bangladesh to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL) in
the country. This is a national Time Bound Programme (TBP) which was developed
following the ratification of ILO Convention No. 182 on the Elimination of the WFCL by
Bangladesh in 2001.
The UIE project succeeded an ILO pilot project which began in 2001. The pilot project
focused on building a knowledge base on the sectors and actors in the urban informal
economy and on testing strategies and models for validity and cost-effectiveness. The UIE
project commenced in January 2007 and its current phase will be completed in December
2011. The UIE project, being implemented in Dhaka Metropolitan, is funded by the
Government of Netherlands.
This project will raise knowledge on child labour in the urban informal economy.
Approximately 48,000 children will be protected from hazardous work and their workplaces
will be free from hazardous child labour. Approximately 26,000 relatively young children
will be prepared for formal primary/secondary education. Another 10,000 relatively older
children will be prepared for and placed in decent employment arrangements. About 28,000
guardians/household members and approximately 4,000 employers will improve their social
and economic security.
The capacity of national and municipal stakeholders is also being increased at the conceptual,
institutional and implementation levels.
6. International Labor standard & Tripartism
Bangladesh has been an important and active Member State of the ILO since June 22, 1972.
To date, Bangladesh has ratified 33 ILO Conventions including seven fundamental
Conventions as enshrined in the ILO Declaration. The ILO Office works in close
collaboration with its tripartite constituents and social partners towards achieving
Bangladesh‘s decent work objectives.
Under the main outputs of the Bangladesh decent work country programme, tripartite
constituents are being sensitized about gender issues, indigenous people, HIV/AIDS, safe
migration and labour market issues, for reflecting and promoting the principles of ILO
standards. Social protection and rights of workers is protected in sectors such as readymade
garments, ship recycling industry and migration through occupational safety and health, and
awareness rising on HIV/AIDS.
The Government is working actively to adopt the child labour policy and has shown its
commitment for ratifying ILO C.138 as stated by the Minister of Labour and Employment,
and Expartiates‘ Welfare and Overseas Employment, at the ILO‘s 90th anniversary in Dhaka
on May 3, 2009.
Tripartism is an integral part of ILO's activities. Since the country has ratified C.144 on
Tripartite Consultation, ILO has found it easier to ensure the principle of tripartism. All high
level committees as well as project advisory committees of individual projects are tripartite in
character, viz. National Steering Committee on Child Labour and several Project Advisory
Committees of ILO TC projects.
The Government, in line with C.144 has formulated a Tripartite Consultative Committee
(TCC) to review the labour policy after 29 years which was initially adopted in 1980.
7. Labor Migration
The ILO Office in Bangladesh in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Employment,
the Ministry of Expatriates‘ Welfare and Overseas Employment, the Bangladesh Employers‘
Federation (BEF), the National Coordination Committee for Workers‘ Education (NCCWE),
and social partners, is working to improve labour migration policy and its application to
promote decent work for migrant workers. In addition, the ILO has published a number of
publications on migration.
The past and current activities include:
Regional Symposium on Deployment of Workers Overseas: A Shared responsibility
(Dhaka, 2008) with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
Awareness raising and advocacy for UN and ILO instruments on migration in
cooperation with the Welfare Association for the Rights of Bangladeshi Emigrants
HIV/AIDS sensitization programmes for female migrant workers prior to their
departure overseas in cooperation with the Bangladeshi Ovibasi Mohila Sramik
Association (BOMSA)(2008/09); and
Technical assistance to the Government of Bangladesh to develop and implement
improved labour migration policy (2007-ongoing).
International labour migration has rapidly gained prominence as one of the main employment
generating sectors and the largest source of foreign exchange earnings in Bangladesh. Over a
period of 33 years between 1976 and 2008, Bangladesh has sent through regular channels
alone more than 6.26 million migrant workers mostly to Middle Eastern countries.
In 2008, 875,055 migrant workers (97 per cent men) found employment abroad. The
remittances sent by migrant workers through legal channels alone also touched the peak in
2008, amounting to over US$ 9 billion. While international labour migration presents benefits
of reduced unemployment at home, poverty alleviation and better standards of living and
security for migrant workers and their families through higher wages and remittances, and
sharing of skills and technology, majority of migrant workers in Bangladesh do not enjoy the
full benefits. Challenges include:
High fees for migration charged by recruitment agencies, especially for low skilled
jobs with the highest charge;
Low wages for Bangladeshi migrant workers in overseas jobs due to low skills and
qualifications (Fifty per cent of the total migrant workers are low-skilled workers);
Lack of information on migration opportunities and risks;
Indecent working conditions, and risks and vulnerabilities to discrimination,
exploitation and abuse during overseas employment;
Insufficient services and service delivery to protect the rights of workers and to
provide social security to the workers and their families;
Lack of support on resettlement of migrant workers back home or to prepare for
further employment overseas; and
Limited opportunities for female migration workers.
8. Safety and health at work
According to the ILO, it is estimated that 11.7 thousand workers suffer fatal accidents and a
further 24.5 thousand die from work related diseases across all sectors each year in
Bangladesh. It is also estimated that a further 8 million workers suffer injuries at work –
many of which will result in permanent disability. Although little research has taken place in
Bangladesh, it is internationally recognized that most occupational deaths and injuries are
entirely preventable, and could be avoided if employers and workers took simple initiatives to
reduce hazards and risks at the workplace.
The ILO Office in Bangladesh in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Employment,
Bangladesh Employers‘ Federation (BEF), National Coordination Committee for Workers
Education (NCCWE), and social partners such as the Occupational Safety and Health and
Environment (OSHE) Foundation and the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS),
work to foster a preventative safety and health culture by strengthening national occupational
safety and health (OSH) systems.
This includes support in the following areas:
Development of a National OSH policy;
National OSH profile (2002) update;
Promotion on ratification of the ILO Convention 187 as well as Convention 155 and
Capacity building of the key OSH stakeholders;
Promotion of safe and environmentally friendly ship recycling; and
Promotion of better working conditions in the garment industry.
9. Workers’ and Employers’ Organizations
The ILO office in Bangladesh encourages tripartism by promoting social dialogue with the
government, employers and workers organizations. It works with employers through their
focal representative body Bangladesh Employers‘ Federation (BEF) and the workers through
National Coordination Committee for Workers‘ Education (NCCWE). Both the constituents
are supportive of the Bangladesh decent work objectives.
The Bangladesh Employers‘ Federation is a member of the International Organization of
Employers and it represents the employers at the International Labour Conference held every
year in Geneva. The main objective of BEF is to provide guidance and assistance to
employers in the field of industrial relations and to bring their concerted views on labour
matters to the attention of the Government. Joint ILO-BEF activities include green jobs,
human resource management, occupational safety and health, industrial relations, and non-
discrimination in employment. Mr. Kamran T. Rahman is the current president and Mr.
Farooq Ahmed is the secretary general.
National Coordination Committee for Workers‘ Education is a united platform of 14 major
national trade union federations in Bangladesh who represent the maximum number of
workers and employees of the country. It is affiliated with International Trade Union
Confederation (ITUC) and World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU), and also with the
International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). Mr. Abdul Matin Master is the current
chairman and Mr. Abdul Kader Howlader is member secretary.
10. Technical and Vocational Education and Training
(TVET) Reform Project in Bangladesh
In cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh, the ILO is implementing an EU funded
project to reduce poverty through reforms to the technical and vocational education and
training (TVET) system. These reforms will enable more people to acquire employable skills
and thus generate income through wage-earning jobs or self-employment. The activities for
this TVET reform project, the first of its nature in Bangladesh, have been carried out
adopting five components dealing with specified major issues of TVET focusing on
Duration: December 2008 - December 2012
Regions and countries covered: Bangladesh
Unit responsible: ILO Country Office for Bangladesh
Subjects: Workers, education and training, industry,
service sector, gender, disabilities
Objective of the article
The project will enable more people to acquire employable skills and thus generate decent
work and income through wage-earning jobs or self-employment.
The target groups include the Government of Bangladesh; the Department of Technical
Education; Bangladesh Technical Education Board; public TVET institutions; Polytechnics;
private technical schools and centers, and NGOs delivering training. The final beneficiaries
are the employers; the under-privileged; regular TVET students and graduates and trade
New national TVET policy that will allow the TVET system to function more
effectively at the central and decentralized levels;
New national qualifications framework for TVET;
New skill standards and curriculum in priority occupations;
New quality assurance arrangements for training organizations;
Enhanced links between industry and TVET;
Strengthened TVET institutions through improved knowledge and skills of managers
Improved skills development resulting in enhanced productivity and competitiveness
in key growth and export-oriented industries in the formal industrial sector; and
Increasing access of underprivileged groups to TVET
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform in Bangladesh
TVET is considered an important tool to improve the employability of individuals, increase
productivity in industry and reduce poverty. Bangladesh has an established TVET system, but
it is hampered by inadequate links with industry and outdated curriculum and delivery
strategies. The TVET Reform Project will strengthen the TVET system so that it better serves
the needs of the developing Bangladesh economy.
Duration: This is a five-year project. Phase 1 covers 2008-2012, with Phase 2 continuing for
further three years.
Donor: The project is funded by the European Commission (EC), with support from the
International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Government of Bangladesh. Over 5 years
(2008-2012), 13600 Lac BDT (16 mil €) will be committed to the project.
Component: The project has five major components that focus on key elements of the TVET
11. IPEC Action in Bangladesh
The National Steering Committee (NSC), constituted under the provisions of the
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 1994, includes members from the Ministry
of Labour and Employment, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women and
Children's Affairs, the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Textile Manufacture, the
Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NGO Affairs
Bureau, employers' and workers' organizations, the ILO, and UNICEF.
IPEC activities in Bangladesh started in 1995 with the launch of the country programme. The
overall development objective of the IPEC country programme in Bangladesh during the first
stage (1995 - 99) was to identify strategies and workable models to combat child labour. It
also aimed to build the capacity of Government employers' and workers' organizations,
NGOs, and the other social partners to deal with the problem of child labour and it
progressive elimination from society.
Initial interventions included an analysis of the child labour situation in Bangladesh,
preventing children from entering the labour market, withdrawing children from hazardous
work and providing them services to rehabilitate them; monitoring of workpalces; raising
awareness and acapacity building of the partner organizations.
From 1995 - 1999, 75 action programmes were implemented under the IPEC country
programme in Bangladesh through he Government, NGOs and employers' and workers'
organizations. More than 50,000 children benefitted directly or indirectly from these
programmes. During the course of the first stage, several modalities were developed to
address child labour effectively. The sectoral approach was tested in the garments industry
through the project. Monitoring and Verification of Child Labour in the Bangladesh
Garments Industry. It was successful in many ways creating awareness within the sector
against the use of children, establishing and implementing a child labour monitoring and
verification programme and withdrawing children from work in the factories. By 2003, the
IPEC country programme phased out smalled pilot intervention programmes and focussed on
larger projects covering an entire sector, a particular geographical area or a combination of
several sectors in a geographical region (i.e. a combination of area-specific and sector
specific approaches) Three large projects were launched in 2000, with more focused and
comprehensive action in addressing the worst forms of child labour in various hazardous
sectors. To withdrawn children from hazardous work, a comprehensive strategy was
employed that included mobilizing families and communities against child labour providing
non-formal education to former child labourers; mainstreaming non-formal school graduates
in to formal schools; and providing families with alternative income generation opportunities
through skills training and access to credit. In addition to these interventions, introducing
child labour monitoring systems at workplaces and communities and involving the local
government and the community in regulating child labour contributes to addressing the worst
forms of child labour in a sustained and holistic manner.
In addition in 2004, ILO-IPEC, UNICEF and the Asian Development Bank assisted the
Government of Bangladesh in formulating a National Time-Bound Programme for the
elimination of the worst forms of child labour. It was endorsed by the stakeholders in 2006
and in 2008. It was updated and endorsed again. Various child labour projects that are
currently being implemented support the achievement of the National Time Bound
12. HIV and AIDS in the workplace
With funding from UNAIDS, the ILO supported HIV and AIDS sensitization workshops with
tripartite partners in Dhaka and Chittagong in 2006 and 2007. The MOLE formed a tripartite
committee to oversee the development of a policy and guidelines on HIV and AIDS in the
workplace, but the committee appears to have become inactive.
The ILO also supported small awareness-raising programmes on HIV and AIDS for female
migrants during the DWCP cycle. Overall, the ILO‘s investment and impact in this area are
both very small.
13. Disaster recovery and livelihoods
The ILO supported several initiatives to promote livelihoods following the natural disasters
that occurred in Bangladesh during the DWCP cycle. After the floods of 2004, ILO co-
funded NGO microcredit and training programmes for 800 small handloom weavers whose
livelihoods were severely affected in two upazilas (sub-districts). Handloom weaving
provides employment to millions of people in Bangladesh. The microcredit enabled the
weavers to repair damaged equipment, buy raw materials from the market (rather than from
traders, with whom they were in a disadvantageous relationship that resulted in them selling
their products at lower-than-market prices) and/or raise the plinth of their facilities to enable
production to resume and protect equipment from future flooding. The training covered
entrepreneurship development and business management, disaster preparedness,
management, coping and design development. Most of the direct beneficiaries were women.
The results of the support to the handloom weavers cannot be stated with confidence because
the project was monitored only by the implementing NGOs. They reported that the weavers
were quickly able to restart their looms and resume their livelihoods and that the initiative
demonstrated a model that could be replicated in future disasters affecting occupational
groups and/or for supporting poor weavers under normal circumstances. During a visit to one
of the communities of beneficiaries, the DWCP review team found that successful weavers
were creating employment in their villages (mainly for men), and some of their employees
had developed skills that enabled them to open their own enterprises. The value of the saris
that one beneficiary was producing had increased more than three-fold since the floods,
which she attributed to the introduction of new designs meeting demand, in accordance with
the training she received. One shortcoming was the lack of mechanisms in place to ensure
that decent work principles are followed in the weaving enterprises.
Following Cyclone Sidr in 2007, an ILO team of national and international staff and
consultants conducted an assessment of the loss of non-agricultural livelihoods in four
severely affected districts. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
simultaneously assessed the loss of agricultural livelihoods. Using ILO‘s global methodology
for disaster-damage assessment for the first time in Bangladesh, the ILO team used district-
level government data (on wages, establishments, population, etc.) for the baseline and
interviewed informants (business people, financial institutions, local government officials,
etc.) over a period of about six weeks. The assessment contributed to the UN Resident
Coordinator‘s Early Recovery Framework and to the World Bank‘s Damage and Needs
Feedback from the UN Resident Coordinator‘s Office to the DWCP review team indicated
that the damage assessment was slower and more difficult than expected. This may reflect
limitations in government leadership of the process and deficits in the culture of cooperation
among UN agencies. It was also ILO‘s first damage assessment in Bangladesh. The
experience gained is expected to make assessments following future disasters easier to start
up and manage using local ILO staff and consultants. After the livelihoods assessment, the
ILO supported a cash-for-work project implemented by NGOs in the four affected districts.
For the purposes of both livelihoods recovery and the injection of cash into devastated local
economies, the project engaged daily wage labour (about 3,800 people, mostly male) in the
rebuilding of community infrastructure. The results have not been evaluated.
14. Social Protection
Existing social protection and social security schemes have limited coverage and poor
efficiency and effectiveness. A 2009 ILO-supported study by the Centre for Policy Dialogue
(2009) found that Bangladesh‘s labour laws and regulations are almost at par with those of its
competing countries (such as India and China), but workers in Bangladesh are disadvantaged
in their lack of social security. Public sector employees, who constitute about 4 per cent of
employed persons, have access to pension funds, contributory provident funds, benevolent
funds, group insurance, maternity benefits and support for health care. Employees in the
formal private sector, who constitute about 17 percent of employed persons, often have
access to such resources, but their coverage and quality vary greatly by sector and institution.
For workers in the informal economy, who constitute the vast majority of the labour force,
social protection and social security benefits are virtually non-existent.
15. Promoting indigenous and tribal people’s rights
Bangladesh is home to around 2 million indigenous people from 50 or more different ethnic
groups with their distinct language, culture and heritage. As in other parts of the world,
indigenous people in Bangladesh are among the most marginalized and excluded groups in
society. Poverty and unemployment levels are high and their rich, vibrant and colourful
cultures are increasingly being eroded due to a number of factors such as loss of land and
forest/natural resource rights, displacement for purpose of modernization and
industrialization, and discrimination. As a signatory to the ILO Convention 107 on
Indigenous and Tribal Populations, the Government of Bangladesh and ILO together with
other partners are working to promote indigenous and tribal people‘s rights.
The role and relevance of ILO in Bangladesh
From 1972, when has started work in Bangladesh, ILO is very much active to ensure all
rights of deprived people; it acts as a voluntary association. Some contributions of ILO in
Bangladesh are pointed below. The ILO responded to emerging opportunities in skills
development, labour migration and—to the extent possible with its limited resources—to the
opportunity to promote social dialogue since the end of emergency rule.
National political, economic and social factors have shaped formulation of Country
Flexibility and ability to respond to emerging opportunities;
ILO establishes priorities consistent with its capacities and comparative advantages;
ILO ensures CCA addresses subjects that are priorities for decent work in the country;
ILO achieves overall policy coherence between ILO action and the UNDAF; and
PRSPs/ MDGs: ILO‘s country programme links to and supports/influences national
The Efficiency of ILO in Bangladesh.
From the establishing of ILO working with very much efficiently & effectively. ILO ensures
all rights to the people who are deprived of. By ILO, creates some regulations. Child &
worker get their basic rights. Especially women get their right. Labor unrest is decreasing
more than before.
The ILO has operated fairly and with integrity;
Credible, skilled specialists support the work;
Resource mobilization is effectively and efficiently carried out; and
Work processes are efficient and timely.
Concluding Remarks of the article
By and large, the programme seems to moderately contribute to the capacity building of the
ILO constituents. Workers who need capacity building most because of their limited
resources seem to benefit least from the programme. In the allocation of fellowships, workers
deserve larger share for all practical purposes.
The ILO should continue this programme regularly, including following up with the
participants and giving more fellowships to enhance capacity building and sharing knowledge
and experience of different countries. The ILO should enhance international cooperation in
terms of skill development programme related to productive employment generation.
Green jobs activities should be integrated into the movement on climate change and
environment protection – nationally, regionally and internationally. The ILO, being an
international agency with a tripartite mandate, is better equipped to contribute to the national
capacity building particularly with regard to the promotion of green jobs which at the same
time should be decent jobs.
A recommended approach to capacity building of the ILO constituents include: a) assessing
current skills; b) identifying learning needs; c) defining expected learning outcomes with
dates and milestones; d) identifying appropriate learning activity (clarifying resources
required); e) undertaking learning activity; f) reflecting on actual outcomes and applying
those to work practice; g) gathering evidence to support improved work practice; and h)
identifying further needs.
Capacity building of the ILO constituents is not just about courses and qualifications. It
includes a wide variety of activities that lead to learning and development, both personal and
professional. It does not always have to be upwards; it can also be sideways, encompassing
anything that helps to broaden individual‘s range of skills, knowledge or competence. In sum,
effective capacity building is a commitment to professionalism. It shows that one has taken
personal responsibility for ensuring that one has the skills and knowledge necessary to meet
the challenges of an ever changing world. So the biggest contribution to capacity building is a
training participant‘s commitment.
According to all the participants, existing training programmes should be continued because
they will develop the skills of trade union leaders and employers for effective collective
bargaining practices for promoting decent work. The capacity of the Ministry of Labour and
Education needs to be improved in order to reduce the gap between the existing labour laws
of Bangladesh and the ILO conventions and recommendations. In addition, future training
programmes should provide an in-depth knowledge in respect of all the ILO instruments
relating to rights at work, productive employment generation, social protection and social
dialogue in order to enable the ILO constituents to effectively meet the challenges of decent
In the globalizing world, the capacity building of the ILO constituents in Bangladesh has
acquired critical importance with the urgent need to equip them to collectively respond to the
emerging challenges of globalization. Future training courses should address these issues
objectively in order to improve the collective efficiency and competitiveness of the social
partners. To this end, allocation of fellowships to the ministry personnel merits close scrutiny
due to their frequent transfer and losing stake.
ADB Asian Development Bank
AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
BEF Bangladesh Employers Federation
BGMEA Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association
BMET Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (MEWOE)
CO-Dhaka ILO Country Office for Bangladesh
CRC Convention on the Rights of the Child
DWCP Decent Work Country Programme
DWTs Decent Work Technical Support Teams
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus
ILO International Labour Organization
ILO-IPEC ILO‘s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour
IOE International Organization of Employers
IOM International Organization for Migration
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MOLE Ministry of Labour and Employment
NCCWE National Coordination Committee for Workers Education
NGO Non-government Organization
OSH Occupational Safety and Health
RMG Ready-Made Garments
SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
SME Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise
TBP Time-Bound Programme
TCC Tripartite Consultative Council
TPP Technical Project Performance
TREE Training for Rural Economic Empowerment
TVET Technical and Vocational Education and Training
UIE Urban Informal Economy
UN United Nations
UNAIDS Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNICEF United Nations Children‘s Fund
WHO World Health Organization
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