Force means to make somebody do something that they do not want to do. Labor means to do hard physical work. So the meaning of forced labor is to compel somebody to do some hard physical work. Generally employer forcefully gets the work done by the employee. Employee has no response in this regard. Employee must follow the instructions of employer no matter whether the employee likes the work or not. History shows that slavery has killed millions of people around the world. Forced labor is a kind of modern slavery. This modern slavery is mostly based on economic perspective. While the economic context is changing and evolving, it is apparent that poverty and social exclusion contribute to forced labor. Evidence found that the existence of forced labor is sector and sometimes country specific. Poverty, social exclusion and denial of human rights may be necessary conditions, but they are not sufficient conditions to lead to forced labor. The government, environment, social and moral behavior, cultural facts, education are very much correlated with forced labor in a country.
Eradication of Forced Labor:
In 1919, International Labor Organization (ILO) was founded with a mandate to develop international labor standards and promote their ratification and implementation. It has been concerned with forced labor from its earliest years and in 1930 in the fourteenth session all members agreed upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to force or compulsory labor. This international convention is known as ‘Forced Labor Convention 1930’. In this convention on Article 2 it says that, ‘the term “forced or compulsory labor shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”. Forced labor was a common phenomenon in the late eighteenth century and in the early nineteenth century. At that time people were bound to do work. Their consent had no value and employers also did not pay heed regarding their matter. 1926 Slavery Convention was the first attempt from any world organization which banned the slavery activities. It is said that, “The parties agreed to prevent and suppress the slave trade and to progressively bring about the complete elimination of slavery in all its forms”. So it is quite understandable that people have the right to choose their own work and no one can compel anyone to do certain work.
Forced Labor in the Constitution of Bangladesh:
In our country forced labor is also prohibited by the constitution. It says on article 34 (1) that, “All forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law”. It is the fundamental right for any Bangladeshi citizen that no one can be forced to give his or her labor. But it also says on article 34 (2) that Nothing in this article shall apply to compulsory labor. (a) By persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence; or (b) required by any law for public purpose. Forced labor is a kind of slavery where people have no right to express their opinion and are forced to work. In the constitution the fundamental right has enshrined and protected people from forced labor by proclaiming punishable law. So if a person forces to make work done by someone then he must get punishment according to law.
The Current Scenario of Forced Labor in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh is a poor country with huge population. More than 150 million people live in this country. In 2009 human rights report US department of state claims that the situation of forced labor in the country has been deteriorating from the last couple of years. Some children are forced to work in the fishing industry, moreover 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. The government does not effectively enforce prohibitions against forced labor. There are the laws but the law is not working to save the citizen. Some critical factors of forced labors are given below
- Garments worker do not get payment of the day if they start working after the time is over. If the person cannot enter into the factory within the time he will not get the payment of that day. Moreover he has to work the whole working hour.
- In Shrimp processing factories leaving laborers extremely vulnerable to the threat of dismissal with any reason. People are frequently get out of the job for very trivial matter.
- In the steel furniture making factories most working people are apprentice and are unpaid. Apprenticeship is about 3-5 years. Within this time period laborer will get just food and accommodation facility.
- In the brick production child labor are mostly popular as they are given less payment than adult. Majority of the temporary laborers come from distant places and are allowed to live cost free in makeshift houses at the work sites.
- Tannery workers work in a hazardous situation where a lot of child workers are also working with poor facilities. Sometimes they are threatened by the employers for work hard.
- In Gul making (Chew dust of tobacco) factories child labors have the right to quit the job whenever they wish. According to their parents and the labors, in such cases, do not become subject to any tortures
- In Plastic products factories no one is physically forced to work. It is poverty compels even children to desperately look for works. Employers prefer child laborers as cheap labor for light activities such as packaging, loading products into cartons, and carrying packages from one place to another
- Wooden Furniture Manpower is available in Bangladesh in abundance at a very low rate. Skilled carpenters at low costs are available in Bangladesh. Specialized wood craftsmen working in urban furniture factories produce designs to satisfy various types of customers. They are not forcefully work in the carpentry but still they get very low payment which is really tough to maintain their family.
- Handloom Weaving, Saree, Lungi is a long tradition in Bangladesh. It is seen that family tradition is mostly ingrained factors in this business. Father teaches to his son and brings him in the business. Children voluntarily learn this job from the family. So there is no forced or compelled work.
- Bidi Making is also one of the hazardous jobs in Bangladesh. Many men and women work in the bidi factory in an unhygienic manner. The nature and range of the work in the bidi sector is such that even the children workers are forced to work at their homes and factories equally. Many of school aged children of poor laborers’ families do go to school and are also engaged in bidi making.
- In Soap Making factory people are not bound to do work or they are not compelled to do. Though the working condition is not that good but people want to do because of poor economic situation.
- In Shoe Making factory workers are not allowed to leave their work when there are plenty of orders on hand. The factory owners very often hold back the wages of the senior workers for four to five months so that they cannot leave. Child apprentices are not treated well in all factories. They are usually not paid but provided with food and, at times, paid TK 10 to 20 to meet personal expenses.
Besides these human trafficking is one of the main problems for Bangladesh in labor sector. This trafficking occurs because of commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labor, and forced labor in different countries. So the work of law in Bangladesh is not working properly for various economic and social problems.
Human Rights versus Forced Labor:
Employee and employer both have the right to choose where they are going to work and whom they are going to recruit. Employee is free to quit at any time and the employer can adjust its workforce as it sees fit.This is known as employment at will. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that, “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment,… and to protection against unemployment”. It is the moral norms that one should not punish other without any reason. One cannot do any immoral behavior. International Covenant on Civil Rights and Political rights says that “No one shall be held in slavery, Slavery and the slave trade in all their forms shall be prohibited” If employee do not make pressure or give threaten to its lazy workers then the productivity will decrease on the other hand this process is punishable offence in term of the constitution of Bangladesh. So there is a huge dilemma in terms of human rights and forced labor. To get the proper productivity employers or managers need to cajole their workers by luring or threatening. An employer knows best by how he can manage his subordinates. So forcing or showing threaten in some perspective is healthy in the organizational benefit.
Conclusion: The existing labor and industrial laws are in favor of the employers while not in favor of the workers in Bangladesh. In this country, the existing laws regarding laborers are primitive in nature. Lack of a proper execution system of the laws is the main cause in the ignorance of labor rights. Laborers are deprived of all kind of rights, all over the world. This deprivation puts the labor class in an extreme position, which requires them to reinforce their rights. Labor rights in Bangladesh are not justifiable under the existing labor laws and lack of proper execution system of those existing laws is the main course for not ensuring labor rights. Forced labor is prevalent in Bangladesh because of poor economic condition and lack of education. These two are the main reasons for all. There will be no forced labor if people are aware of their rights. It means if people are educated then they will be conscious about the fundamental and moral rights. Employer cannot suppress employee on the other hand employee will know their right so they will not compromise with the employer at all.
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 Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Seventeenth edition, Editor Sally Wehmeier, Oxford University Press 2005, New York, Page 605 ISBN 0-19-431665-3.
 Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Seventeenth edition, Editor Sally Wehmeier, Oxford University Press 2005, New York, Page 857 ISBN 0-19-431665-3.
 Ruwanpura K. N, Rai P. 2004. Forced Labour: Definition, Indicators and Measurement. Concepts and Conceptual Categories, P.3 Geneva. International Labour Office.
 Forced labour and trafficking : a casebook of court decisions : a training manual for judges, prosecutors and legal practitioners / International Labour Office. – Geneva: ILO, 2009 p.1,ISBN: 978-92-2-122177-7;978-92-2-122178-4 (web pdf),
 Slavery Convention – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1926_Slavery_Convention, retrieved on 16-10-2011
 CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH, Part Three Fundamental rights P.10
 CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH, Part Three Fundamental rights P.10
 Bangladesh Demographics Profile 2011
 Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum, Emerging economic scenarios. Retrieved from http://human-rights.unglobalcompact.org/dilemmas/forced-labour/ retrieved on 16-10-2011,
 In-country Research and Data Collection on Forced Labor and Child Labor in the Production of Goods Bangladesh retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/ilab/media/reports/external/2011-Bangladesh-redacted-for-web.pdf, retrieved on 16-10-2011.
 Human trafficking in Bangladesh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking_in_Bangladesh retrieved on 16-10-2011
 Barnes A. J. Dworkin T. M., Richard E. L.(2000) Law for Business Craig S Beytien. ISBN- 0-07-365917-7
 Malik T. (2000) Human Rights Law: A Manual on Human Rights Training Programme for Lawyers. Part twelve-Right to Work. P.509
 Malik T. (2000) Human Rights Law: A Manual on Human Rights Training Programme for Lawyers. Part twelve-Right to Work., P. 513.