Barrister Chamber In Bangladesh

Do you think that the current legal mechanism of Bangladesh is adequate in order to protect labor rights- explain & illustrate.


The legal mechanism is a legal rule or set of rule which is an atomic process that occurs during a reaction or the technical aspects of a country’s law. Every legal agreement has a legal mechanism. For example:  Buyers must agree to this legal charge being secured on their home before the purchase can be completed. On the other hand, The Armed Forces Home Ownership Scheme documents include other obligations such as the requirement for owners to insure their property. But this legal mechanism differs from country to country and the situation to situation.

Legal System of Bangladesh: The legal system of our country is based in part on English common law. Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan in December 1971. The British-era legislation applied in Pakistan after 1947 and post-partition legislation enacted in Pakistan continued to form the basis of Bangladeshi personal status laws, but legal developments since 1972 have been distinct.

Child Labor in Export Industries: According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics Labor Force Survey (1990), there are 5.7 million 10 to 14 year old children working in Bangladesh.* Another estimate puts the number at 15 million.* Nearly all the child labor in export industries is found in the garment industry. According to the Bangladesh Ministry of Labor, “children are found working in garments, bakeries and confectioneries, hotels and restaurants, transport, bidi (cigarette) factories, small engineering workshops, fish-processing, and other informal and unregulated sectors.” There are also allegations of children catching and processing shrimp in Chittagong for export.*

Labor Rights Now strongly protested the jailing of top leaders of the largest union in Bangladesh. Police arrested Rajendra Prashad Boonerjee, president of the Bangladesh Cha Sramik Union (BCSU) on March 24, 2006. In a letter to Shamsher M. Chowdhury, the Bangladesh ambassador to the U.S., Labor Rights Now President Don Stillman urged his immediate release along with that of Narendra Boonerjee and Bupesh Sind, also officials of he BCSU.


* This estimate does not include children working below 10 years of age. See International Child Labor Hearing, U.S. Department of Labor (April 12, 1994) (Statement of Dr. Abdul Momen)[hereinafter Testimony of Momen].

* ICFTU/APRO Sub-Regional Seminars on Child Labor (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions/Asian and Pacific Regional Organization, October 1993) Chart 1 “Country Reports in a Nutshell.”

* In numerous discussions with a Department of Labor official on a May 1994 visit to Bangladesh, individuals from all sectors noted that children were most likely employed in the processing of frozen shrimp for export. Since the industry is located in outlying areas far from Dhaka, no eyewitness reports were available. One report provided to the Department of Labor notes that European shrimp buyers have observed children in the industry. A Report on Child Labor in Bangladesh (Asian-American Free Labor Institute, 1994) 4 [hereinafter 1994 AAFLI Report].

Education Laws for labor children: Under Bangladesh law, children must attend school through the fifth grade.* Primary education is free and compulsory, although not compulsory for girls in the rural areas. The implementation of compulsory education has fallen short in part because parents keep their children out of school, finding school accessories too expensive or preferring their children to be working for money or helping with household chores. The current government policy is to implement compulsory education in 50 percent of the country by 1995 and 100 percent by the year 2000.*

The 1994 report by the Asian-American Free Labor Institute, however, maintains that, despite this policy on compulsory education, there has not been much progress.* The Government of Bangladesh contends that it does not have the resources.* A UNICEF sponsored study on non-formal education and child labor in Bangladesh noted that parents find purchasing uniforms, books, and other supplies a significant burden, especially for poor families,* and presumably a major disincentive for sending their children to school rather than to work.


* Country Reports at 1331.

* 1992 ICFTU/APRO Report at 12.6

* 1994 AAFLI Bangladesh Report at 3.

* Country Reports at 1331.Babar Sobhan, Non-Formal Primary Education and Child Labor: Opportunities and Obstacles (study conducted for UNICEF-Bangladesh, n.d.) Lists of Ratifications by Convention and by Country (as at December 1992) (Geneva: International Labor Office, 1993).

* American Embassy-Dhaka, unclassified portion of telegram no. 4925, July 7, 1994.

Programs and Efforts to Address Child Labor: In the past year or two, there has been significant action taken by the Government of Bangladesh, the BGMEA, international organizations, and NGOs to create solutions and alternatives for child workers. In its written testimony to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Government of Bangladesh listed official efforts either taken or planned for the future. Some of the efforts include a realization of the objectives of the Rights of the Child Convention (a National Program of Action for Children was launched on June 2, 1992); examination by the National Labor Law Commission on existing labor laws with the goal of updating and consolidating them into a “Labor Code,”; strictly enforcing child labor laws; continuing to publish notices containing the provisions of laws relating to child employment in daily newspapers and broadcasting prohibitory messages over TV and radio; and distributing posters prohibiting child labor.

The government is cooperating with international organizations such as UNICEF to develop non-formal educational and other support programs for working children. The government has reportedly also agreed to allow the ILO to conduct a national survey of child workers.

On July 4, 1994, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) announced that it would eliminate child labor from all garment factories by October 31, 1994.* On May 5, 1994, Mr. Redwan Ahmed, president of the BGMEA, announced that in addition to setting up a hospital for garment workers, the BGMEA also planned to give informal education, professional training, and to provide health care facilities to the employees of the apparel sector by setting up seven clinic/hospitals and seven training center/schools in Dhaka and Chittagong.*

There has been tremendous public reaction in Bangladesh to the proposed Child Labor Deterrence Act,* which, combined with serious concern for the welfare of the children, has resulted in the formation of a child labor coalition, consisting of representatives from international organizations, NGOs, labor unions, various government ministries, and representatives of the garment industry. The work is being spearheaded by UNICEF, which has researched and reviewed a number of private non-formal education programs for possible use in setting up schools for working children. In addition, numerous child welfare and education NGOs are active in the effort to provide assistance to working children.


*American Embassy-Dhaka, unclassified portion of telegram no. 4925, July 7, 1994.

* BATEXPO Brochure ’94, 4 [on file]. Ironically, in April 1994 the BGMEA stated for the record that “at the moment there is no child labor in our garment factories.” “Bangladesh Garment Industry Denies Child Labor,” Reuters, April 13, 1994.

* If enacted, the Child Labor Deterrence Act, proposed by Senator Tom Harkin and Rep. George Brown, would ban the importation to the United States of products which are manufactured or mined in whole or in part by children.

The transnational corporations are becoming increasingly powerful. As profits are naturally the most important goal, damaging results can arise, such as violation of human rights, lobbying for and participating in manipulated international agreements, environmental damage, child labor, driving towards cheaper and cheaper labor, and so on. Multinational corporations claim that their involvement in foreign countries is actually a constructive engagement as it can promote human rights in non-democratic nations. However, it seems that that is more of a convenient excuse to continue exploitative practices. Freedom of Speech and Human Rights are taken for granted in the west, but recent years have seen conditions deteriorate around the world. Human Rights conditions were reported to remain unchanged compared to previous years, or in some countries.  The first of the core labor standards, the freedom of labor association and recognition of the right to collective bargaining, clearly envisages that workers should be able to improve their lot through union organizing.

So in conclusion, we can say our current legal mechanism is not up to date and it is rarely adequate in order to protect labor right.



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