“Forced labor has been present in Bangladesh for centuries. Evaluate and Analyze in relation to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.
“Forced labor has been present in Bangladesh for centuries. After the liberation of Bangladesh, it changed its form and has taken the new face of various ‘contracts’ associated with loans taken by poor farmers from the usurers,”
[Mohamad Abul Quasem, founder of the human rights related NGO “Uddyam” and member of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society
Bangladeshi people are suffering very badly with this problem. As being a poor country, people of Bangladesh have nothing to do and for having no other option people are forced to labor. In the rural areas we can found this problem more than the urban areas.
Forced labor is a very important issue all over the world. At least 12.3 million people around the world are trapped in forced labor. For protecting the helpless labor and worker International labor organization (ILO) establish in 1919. The ILO works to combat the practice and the conditions that give rise to it. Forced labor takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The victims are the most vulnerable – women and girls forced into prostitution, migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by clearly illegal tactics and paid little or nothing.
In 1972, Bangladesh ratified both ILO Convention No. 29 (1930), the Forced Labor Convention and ILO Convention No. 105 (1957), the Abolition of Forced Labor Convention. Bangladesh has so far ratified 33 conventions including seven out of eight fundamental ones.
Constitution of Bangladesh and Forced Labor:
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles according to which a state is governed. It’s the supreme law of a country. The power of govt. derived from the constitution and the rights of the citizens of that nation are also outlined. All the fundamental laws, rules and regulations of a country are written in their constitution. In the constitution of Bangladesh we also have all the laws and regulations. In our constitution we have laws against forced labor in article 34 of Fundamental Rights section (part 3).
In the fundamental Rights sections our constitution talks about all the rights that we have as a Bangladeshi citizen. In article 34 of part 3 it’s clearly written down that all forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. In this part our constitution talks about our different fundamental rights like Equality before law, Discrimination on grounds of religion, Equality of opportunity in public employment, Right to protection of law Freedom of profession or occupation etc. There are also other fundamental rights ensuring a free, equal, safe, and peaceful life for any Bangladeshi.
Forced labor is a system under which people are treated as property rather than a human being and are forced to work. Forced labor can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation. Conditions that can be considered slavery include debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, adoption in which children are effectively forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage. The Convention concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor or Forced Labor Convention (No.29) is an International Labor Organization Convention. It is one of 8 ILO fundamental conventions. Forced labor occurs when the person can’t offer himself voluntary to the work he is assigned to.
Forced labor however is a criminal act. The ILO’s Forced Labor Convention clarifies (Article 25) that “The illegal exaction of forced or compulsory labor shall be punished as a penal offence, and it shall be an obligation on any Member ratifying this Convention to ensure that the penalties imposed by law are really adequate and are strictly enforced”
Constitution against Forced Labor
Part III – Fundamental Rights
Article 34- Prohibition of Forced labor
1. All forms of forced labor 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 labor.
- By persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence; or
- Required by any law for public purpose.
The constitution prohibits forced and child labor. There are a lot of inspection mechanisms in our country to guard against forced and child labor, but resources for enforcement are scarce and lack of implementation. We have Regulations regarding minimum wages, hours of work and occupational safety and health, but they are not strictly enforced. Nevertheless, there is believed to be little use of forced labor, though conditions for some domestic servants resemble servitude, and some trafficked women and children work as prostitutes. In a society as poor as Bangladesh’s, the extra income obtained by children, however meager, is sought after by many families. In July 1995, Bangladesh garment exporters signed a memorandum that has virtually eliminated child labor in the garment export sector. Schools and a stipend program were established for displaced child workers. By November 1998, hundreds of schools serving thousands of former child workers were in operation. A system of fines and possible suspension of import/export privileges exists, and a monitoring system has been set up by the International Labor Organization.
Bangladesh ratifies ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labor:
The subject of the ILO convention no 29 is forced labor. Bangladesh ratified it to stop forced labor in our country and strapping our constitution against forced labor. This convention has 33 articles in total. Bangladesh ratified it in 22/06/1972.
ILO Convention No. 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labor
Session of the Conference: 14
Date of adoption: 28:06:1930
Subject classification: Forced Labor
Subject: Forced Labor
This fundamental Convention prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, which is defined as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which they said person has not offered him voluntarily.” Exceptions are provided for work required by compulsory military service, normal civic obligations, as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law (provided that the work or service in question is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the person carrying it out is not hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations), in cases of emergency, and for minor communal services performed by the members of a community in the direct interest of the community. The Convention also requires that the illegal extraction of forced or compulsory labor be punishable as a penal offence, and that ratifying states ensure that the relevant penalties imposed by law are adequate and strictly enforced.
Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006
A labour is defined under the law of Bangladesh in Section 2(65) of the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006.
“Labor” means any person, including a trainee/probationer, whether the terms and conditions of his/her employment are expressly written or not, who is employed directly or through a contractor/agency, for any skilled, unskilled, physical, technical, business development or clerical job in any establishment or industry, but does not include any person responsible primarily for administrative or managerial duties.
In Bangladesh labor act there are 354 articles and most of them are talking about forced labor. In Bangladeshi constitution there is no place for forced labor. Different laws are there to protect people from this kind of forced labor. Here I provide some of the important articles –
Prohibition of employment of children and adolescent:
(1) No child shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or establishment.
(2) No adolescent shall be employed or permitted to work in any occupation or establishment unless-
(a) A certificate of fitness in the prescribed form and granted to him by a registered medical practitioner is in the custody of the employer; and
(b) He carries, while at work, a token giving a reference to such certificate.
(3) Nothing in this sub-section (2), shall apply to the employment of any adolescent in any occupation or establishment either as an apprentice or the purpose or receiving vocational training therein.
Article 41-Working hours for adolescent:
(1)No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in any factory or mine, for more than five hours in any day and thirty hours in any week;
(2) No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in any other establishment, for more than seven hours in any day and forty-two hours in any week.
(3) No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in any establishment between the hours of 7.00 P.M and 7.00 a.m.
(4) If an adolescent works overtime, the total number of hours worked, including overtime shall not exceed-
(a) In any factory or mine, thirty six hours in any week;
(b) In any other establishment, forty eight hours in any week.
(5) The period of work of an adolescent employed in an establishment shall be limited to two shifts which shall not overlap or spread over more than seven and a half hours each.
(6) An adolescent shall be employed in only one of the relays which shall not, except with the previous permission in writing of the Inspector, be changed more frequently than once in a period of thirty days.
(7) The provisions of weekly holiday shall apply also to adolescent workers, and no exemption from the provisions of that section shall be granted in respect of any adolescent.
(8) No adolescent shall be required or allowed to work in more than one establishment in any day.
Article 284- Penalty for employment of child and adolescent:
Whoever employs any child or adolescent or permits any child or adolescent to work in contravention of any provision of this act; shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five thousand taka.
291. Penalty for unfair labor practices:
(1) who ever contravenes any provision of section 195, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to ten thousand taka, or with both.
(2) Any worker who contravenes any provision of section 196 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to five thousand taka, or with both.
(3) Any trade union which or any person, other than a worker, who, contravenes any provision of section 196, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which extend to ten thousand taka, or with both.
Forced labor is illegal and it’s an offense regarding to our constitution and laws. In the fundamental rights section of our constitution forced labor is strongly prohibited. But still it’s running in our country. Different laws are there to protect people from this forced labor. Govt. should be stricter and inspect in a huge manner to make our country free from this kind of inhuman offense.
· The Constitution of The People’s Republic of Bangladesh
· Labour or Employment Law, http://www.legalsteps.com.bd/Labour.html
· Middle East Journals of Business, http://www.mejb.com/upgrade_flash/Vol3_Issue1/Trade_union.htm
· Bangladesh Labour Law Act 2006 http://complytex.com/bangladesh_labor/Bangladesh_Labor_Law.pdf
· Bangladesh- The Modern Slavery, http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=85617
· BANGLADESH, THE EMPLOYMENT OF LABOR 9 STANDING ORDERS0 ACT,1965 http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/47348/65074/E65BGD02.htm