Forced labor is a common feature of our garments industries -illustrate and explain.

 Forced Labor

Forced Labor or Unfree labor is a generic or collective term for those work relations, especially in modern or early modern history, in which people are employed against their will by the threat of destitution, detention, violence (including death), or other extreme hardship to themselves, or to members of their families.

Forced Labour includes any compulsory labor service, particularly that demanded by a dominant military force of prisoners of war, detainees, or a conquered civilian population.

Busse.M said, “Forced labor is measured by a three-scale variable for

The prevalence of forced labor: (1) if problems have been reported with both enforcement

And legislation, (2) if there are shortcomings with one of them, and (3) if there are no

Insufficiencies at all. In this scale, Algeria is listed in the highest category of Group-3

Countries, implying lowest prevalence of forced labor. Forced labor in the production of goods is not discussed.(2002)

Rahman said.”Garments In this discussion about the garment industry in Bangladesh, it is noted that, in 2003, there was no legislated minimum wage requirement.”(2004)

Forms of Forced Labor

The hidden nature of forced labor and its many forms can add to the difficulty that companies face in addressing this dilemma. Forced labor can take several different forms, including:

Compulsory work: Where people are required, often by the government, to work on certain projects. In Uzbekistan, for example, children are forced to harvest cotton by the government with little or no compensation. Schools are often closed down during this time.

Prison labour: Where convicts are forced to undertake certain labour projects such as road building, maintenance, etc. or work for private enterprise for no or little compensation. Individuals in this category may include prisoners of conscience or prisoners being “re-educated” to manufacture garments or components for electronic goods.

Trafficking: Where individuals are forced or tricked into going somewhere, often to other countries, by exploitive recruiters or companies with the promise of work. Once they are taken out of the country they either find themselves working in a completely different job or the terms of their contracts have unilaterally changed.

 International Law on Forced Labour

Almost all member states of the ILO have ratified ILO Convention No. 29, on Forced Labour (1930) and ILO Convention No. 105, on the Abolition of Forced Labour (1957). It is important to note that both Convention No. 29 and No. 105 form part of the ILO’s “core conventions”. Convention No. 29 establishes the fundamental principle that forced labour is punishable as a criminal offence. No. 105 prohibits forced or compulsory labour in certain situations. Finally, ILO Convention No. 182, on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999) defines what constitutes this category of child labour, such as subjecting children to slavery, serfdom or debt bondage, and exposing them to work. These forms of labour are likely to harm their health, safety and sense of morality.

ILO Convention No. 29, on Forced Labour

According to the Convention No. 29, forced labour is “work or service that is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty, and for which that person has not offered him or herself voluntarily.” The “menace of any penalty” does not have to be physical punishment or constraint; it can take other forms, such as the loss of rights or privileges. Victims of forced labour are often prevented from terminating employment at their discretion.

 Forced Labour Law in Bangladesh

In 1972, Bangladesh ratified both ILO Convention No. 29 (1930), the Forced Labour Convention and ILO Convention No. 105 (1957), the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention.

 Constitution of bangladesh prohibits all forms of forced Labour in chapter 3. At 34th law.

Law: 34. Prohibition of forced labour: (1) All forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

(2) Nothing in this article shall apply to compulsory labour.  by persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence; or  required by any law for public purpose.

According to this law stated above, any kind of labour forced upon anyone and made to follow will be illegal and the person involved in such enforcement will be subject to serious punishment.

The labour law system is more than a century old in Bangladesh. The first labour law was enacted in the Indian sub-continent during the British period, in 1881. Subsequently, the British Government introduced several laws concerning different labour issues, e.g., working hour, employment of children, maternity benefit, trade union activities, wage, etc. The Factories Act (1881), Workmen’s Compensation Act (1923), Trade Unions Act (1926), Trade Disputes Act (1929), Payment of Wages Act (1936), Maternity Benefit Act (1939), and the Employment of Children Act (1938) were remarkable labour laws enacted during the British period.

After the separation of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, almost all the laws during the prepetition period were kept in force with some modifications and amendments, in the form of administrative rules, by the Pakistan Government. After the independence in 1971, the Bangladesh government retained the previous laws through the Bangladesh Laws Order (President’s Order No. 48). In 2006, the country adopted the revised Bangladesh Labour Law of 2006 or BLL.

Also, certain welfare and social benefits have been improved or instituted, e.g., death benefit (financial support to family of deceased worker), application of provident fund benefit to all workers in the private sector, expansion of maternity benefit from 12 to 16 weeks, adoption of group insurance for establishments with 200 or more workers, and increased employee compensation for work-related injury, disability and death.

The only core convention not ratified by Bangladesh is ILC 138 (Minimum Age Convention).

However, the BLA provides that the minimum age to work is 14 (although a special clause states that children between the ages of 12 and 14 may be employed to do “light work” that does not endanger their health, development and education).

 Overview of Bangladesh Labor Laws

According to U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009, “Bangladesh is a source and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced Labour and commercial sexual exploitation. A significant share of Bangladesh’s trafficking victims are men recruited for work overseas with fraudulent employment offers who are subsequently exploited under conditions of forced Labour or debt bondage. Children – both boys and girls – are trafficked within Bangladesh for commercial sexual exploitation, bonded Labour, and forced Labour. Some children are sold into bondage by their parents, while others are induced into Labour or commercial sexual exploitation through fraud and physical coercion. Women and children from Bangladesh are also trafficked to India and Pakistan for sexual exploitation.”

The US Department of State’s 2009 Human Rights Report claims that throughout Bangladesh entire families are subjected to bonded labor. Some children are forced to work in the fishing industry. The penal code prohibits forced and bonded labor.

Large numbers of Bangladeshi women and men voluntarily migrate for work to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates; some find that illegal fees imposed by employment agencies subject them to bonded labor situations.

Unlike in cities where workers are paid a daily or fixed wage, the rural workforce mostly has to make verbal arrangements for wages, which are often manipulated by unscrupulous landlords and loan sharks, known as Mahajan. Once bonded, the laborer is then forced to work long hours for little or no pay, often seven days a week. Many, mostly women and children, end up as domestic servants, working in conditions that resemble servitude.

 Analysis in relation to the fundamental rights of constitution

According to Act 26 of fundamental rights in constitution of Bangladesh:

Laws inconsistent with fundamental rights to be void: (1) all existing law inconsistent with the provisions of this Part shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, become void on the commencement of this Constitution.

This means that if any law goes against or contradicts the Forced Labor Law that law would thereby turn out to be void or inactive and thus will no longer to be considered in action. This promotes the supremacy of forced labor law and shows its significance in the constitution and law system.

(2) The State shall not make any law inconsistent with any provisions of this Part, and any law so made shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.

This states that the law makers will not enact or establish such a law that will contradict the parts and provisions of forced labor law. And even if such a law comes into existence, its actions will be void.

 (3) Nothing in this article shall apply to any amendment of this Constitution made under article 142.

The latter clause, clause 3 was added later into the constitution. This was after changes were made in the constitution under article 142. This states that no change or amendment made in the constitution under article 142 will be effective on the forced labor law.

 The fundamental rights in relation to the labour law system put great emphasis on forced labour law and prove the permanence of forced labor law in the law system of the country.


Some of recommendations are given bellow on against of forced labor:

1. Start a broad-based awareness-raising campaign

Citizens have reported cases of forced labor, suggesting that raising awareness among the general public can increase identification of victims. The Bangladesh government should also encourage worker and employer organizations to promote awareness about forced labor and trafficking within their constituencies.

2. Improve institutional capacity to respond to forced Labor and trafficking.

This means training government officials involved in identification, investigation, and prosecution of perpetrators of trafficking and forced labor. Better coordination of law enforcement activities and policies also should be promoted between federal, state, and local level authorities.

3. Ensure better protection for workers in sectors vulnerable to forced Labor and trafficking. Increased legal protections and monitoring of working conditions in agriculture, domestic labor, sweatshops, and food service would promote safer work environments. Promote accountability in those sectors, especially agriculture and garment manufacturing that use subcontracting systems which violate labour laws and practices.

4. Correct aspects of immigration policy that encourage the practice of forced Labour.

The Bangladesh government should eliminate the visa requirement that mandates a worker to remain with one particular employer. This would go a long way toward reducing the vulnerability of low-wage workers, such as domestic Laborers, to exploitation.

5. Strengthen protection and rehabilitation programs for survivors.

To address short-term needs of survivors, the Bangladesh government should create incentives for survivors to come forward and cooperate with law enforcement personnel. This includes developing mechanisms to protect victims and family members vulnerable to retaliation and threats by traffickers in home countries.


Forced Labor remains a big problem in the Bangladesh because there is public ignorance of the crime, a lack of sensitivity to victims, insufficient legal action, and a public demand for cheap goods and services. Yet for all its severity and breadth, forced labor can be stopped. The record of accomplishments is striking, particularly considering that the Trafficking Act has been in effect for less than five years. It is clear, however, that much remains to be done.


  2. 2.      Busse, M. (2002). Do transnational corporations care about labor standards? The Journal of Developing Areas, 36(2), 39–57.Source: Academic/Research Organization

3. BBS (2009), Gender Statistics of Bangladesh 2008, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Planning


 4.BBS (2009), Gender Statistics of Bangladesh 2008, Government of Bangladesh.

5. Rahman, S. (2004). Global shift: Bangladesh garment industry in perspective. Asian Affairs, 26(1), 75–91.