Real Estate Lawyer
Industrial police formation is necessary to tackle labor unrest more stringently
The industrial police, a specialized unit of law enforcers, formally started its journey aiming to maintain order in the country’s four industrial zones. For regular police, it takes much time to reach the spot, and often the situation spirals out of control before they arrive. Fending off violence in industrial areas will be easier now with the industrial police readily available. The industrial police also exercise utmost restraint in dealing with labour protests. They also gather information from the factories and identify the causes of possible unrest
Industrial relations is about the relationships and inter-relationships between workers, groups of workers (unions), managers and employers, groups of managers or employers (employers’ associations), industrial tribunals and government. Working within these relationships and interrelationships, the participants seek to establish the terms and conditions of employment, and the way in which the employment relationship is to operate. Wages, hours of work, the length of the standard working week, leave, issues of occupational health and safety, the conditions under which workers are hired, fired and disciplined are some of the substantive issues that will be dealt with in these inter relationships.
There will also be many procedural issues to be dealt with, the most important being the establishment of processes for preventing disagreements before they arise, for seeking to resolve such disagreements that do arise, and, of course, to operate and administer the agreements that emerge from the relationships. It must be recognized that these relationships and inter-relationships of workers, unions, employers, tribunals and government do not take place in a vacuum, but within the context of the economic, social, cultural, political, legal, historical, geographical and technological environment of the time and place.
The role expected of government is especially important, for government will inevitably be (and more so in developing micro-states) a significant employer, as well as being responsible for establishing national objectives and priorities, and for making and enforcing laws, not just in respect to labour relations, but for the overall good order and government of the nation. Government, through law-making, policy-setting and action as the dominant employer, will be critical in creating, establishing, or perhaps imposing, the philosophies or value base upon which action is predicated.
The much talked-about Industrial Police, a specialized unit of law enforcers, started its function from 30th September, 2010, Sunday to maintain order in the country’s four major industrial zones. It is directly administered under the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of Bangladesh. It plays a crucial role in maintaining peace and enforcement of law and order within the four industrial zone of Bangladesh. Though the police are primarily concerned with the maintenance of law and order and security of persons and property of individuals, industrial police plays a vital role in the criminal justice system within the industrial area. The Industrial police have been formed to make sure that outsiders cannot provoke violence or create chaos in four industrial zones–Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated the force at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. In the programme, Home Minister Sahara Khatun said the government has formed the force to ensure no outsiders can incite violence or create anarchy in the industrial sector. Speakers at the inaugural training session said the new force will be taught industrial and labor laws, and lessons in the role of industrialists, workers and collective bargaining agents. The government believes that; With the establishment of the Industrial police, it will be easier to tackle workers’ unrest as the force will gather prior information about possible unrest from factories particularly garment factories and identify the causes of unrest. The newly formed Industrial police will rush to any troubled area and take rapid step to tackle the situation whereas the regular police usually take time to reach the troubled areas and control the unpleasant situation. The Industrial police headed by a Director General started its operation initially with 1,580 personnel deputed from the police department. They will later be joined by 1,410 more cops to patrol Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong industrial hubs. Deputy Inspector General of Police Abdus Salam has been posted to the Industrial Police Unit as its Director General. Twenty-six officials including additional superintendents of police, assistant superintendents of police and inspectors have already been given 10-day training at Police Staff College in Mirpur. The training mainly focused on how to resolve disputes between owners and workers through arbitrations.
Earlier this year the government began to formulate plans to set up a separate police force to monitor the four separate industrial zones in Bangladesh. The plan was put into play by inaugurating the industrial police force with somber fanfare. The Industrial police force, (an unfortunately titled cadre of security officers; one imagines police officers kitted out in metallic gear and outfitted in chest plates, cogs and wheels as their weapons) will aid the Bangladesh police and the group of localized (and quite possibly, ill-trained) militia members called the Ansar Bahini, charged with nation-wide, internal security. They will report directly to the Home Ministry led by Sahara Khatun.
The Industrial police are yet another paramilitary force that together with the Rapid Action Battalion and Ansar aids the Bangladesh Police to maintain the internal security of the country. No doubt, it’s an important move especially since the ratio of population to the police force tasked to protect it is so glaring large. Nevertheless, the move to institute a separate Industrial Police force is not one that has obviously–and only–positive benefits. The force has been designed and established to quell labor unrest in the garments sector. This is a direct response to the term of widespread public and social unrest, in the aftermath of which garment workers were offered and accepted a raise in their minimum wage. Asking a minimum wage of 5000 taka, laborers protested the committed refusal of asset owners to admit into their pay rolls such a large increase in wages. Eventually garments workers accepted a hike of 3000, double their minimum wage to be phased in over time. Since that round of protests and violence, NGO’s have accused the government of torturing labor leaders. The tit for tat has offended industrialists who have claimed–with reason–that in order to maintain its industrial strength the current government has to figure out a way to control the next round of labor protests.
The garments workers also have a morally compelling argument in their favor-perhaps more that is morally superior to the claims of industrialists since it hinges on a version of claim to subversion of worker’s human rights. There is widespread evidence of corporate exploitation of workers, overly long work hours and compensation that categorically does not match the surplus profits generated from their industry. Furthermore, with real estate and food prices sky-rocketing garment workers have a legitimate claim to higher compensation, perhaps even higher than the accepted rate of 3000 taka. In their turn, asset owners have a righteous argument that if the government raises wages too high, most firms will be priced out by the larger garments firms. In other words, such a move would quench competition.
Through all the arguments for and against labor strife, unrest and security protection, I cannot think putting out more police officers to scare labor into acquiescence is a stable long-term strategy. As with the RAB, there is little cause to think that the Industrial police will be accountable to public scrutiny. This security force seems to have been designed to be accountable to industrialists and the profits they generate; to some extent that is legitimate. But the counter-point to this is that they seem explicitly designed to crush labor unrest. As such, there is ample room for the rule of law to fall victim to short-term security interests.
Bangladesh’s key labour leaders have asked the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to drop its plan to create an industrial police force saying it could be used to suppress workers’ democratic rights. They expressed the fears that the industrial police force would be used, especially to suppress the rights of the apparel industry workers. They also felt that it would serve no good purpose as it could be used as a shield by the apparel factory owners. Labour leaders told that the proposed industrial police would increase, rather than cut down labour unrests in Bangladesh. Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre adviser Manzurul Ahsan Khan said that the labour unrest cannot be solved applying force. He said that the government should first establish the apparel workers right to trade union.
It is important for the government to ensure the workers’ trade union rights in the apparel industry, he said. Textile Garments Workers Federation President The government’s plan to create an industrial police force would be counterproductive. The new police force would aggravate the relations between the workers and the factory owners. The new force would hamper industrial relations and make them bitter. The new force would create a negative image of the government t aboard. The general secretary of Bangladesh Textile Garments Workers Federation Bazlur Rashid Firoj described it as unnecessary to create a new police force, because the regular police force was good enough to control labour unrests. Possible use of the industrial police to protect the interest of the factory owners could turn it into a tool for suppressing the workers. The creation of the industrial police would further delay the establishment of the right to trade unionism, particularly in the apparel industry.
With the establishment of the Industrial police, it will be easier to tackle workers unrest as the force will gather prior information about possible unrest from factories particularly garment factories and identify the causes of unrest. The newly formed Industrial police will rush to any troubled area and take rapid step to tackle the situation whereas the regular police usually take time to reach the troubled areas and control the unpleasant situation. The Government should also have to consider the workers point of view. The industrial police force may also be the reason for labour unrest in Bangladesh. Tt could be used to suppress workers’ democratic rights. This security force seems to have been designed to be accountable to industrialists and the profits they generate; to some extent that is legitimate. But the counter-point to this is that they seem explicitly designed to crush labor unrest.
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