The practice of forced labour is very rare in the urban of Bangladesh, but it is very common in the rural areas: Illustrate and Explain.
According to ILO, forced labour is the antithesis of decent work. It causes untold human suffering and steals from its victims. Forced labour has been present in Bangladesh for years after years. 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.
The practice of forced labour is very rare in the urban of Bangladesh, but it is very common in the rural areas. The labour is then forced to work for long hours and are paid almost very small amount and many times are not paid, often seven days a week. Many, mostly women and children, end up as domestic servants, working in conditions that resemble servitude. Many suffer physical abuse, sometimes resulting in death due to force labouring.
According to The Constitution of The People’s Republic Of Bangladesh, contents preamble, Part III, Article 34 under the Fundamental rights of the constitution-‘Prohibition of forced labour’
Article 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.
The Constitution prohibits forced labour, including by children; however, the Government did not enforce this prohibition effectively. The Factories Act and Shops, Labour Law Act and Establishments Act established inspection mechanisms to enforce laws against forced labour, but these laws were not enforced rigorously, partly because resources for enforcement were scarce and unstructured. There was no bonded or forced labour in large-scale enterprises; nevertheless, numerous domestic servants, including many children, worked in conditions that resembled servitude and many suffered physical abuse, sometimes resulting in death.
Labour Law Act was introduced in October 2006, in order to support and strengthen the constitution so that the prohibition of forced labour can be executed properly. The labour law mainly deals with the rights and obligations of workers, union members and employers in the workplace. Generally, labour law covers.
· Industrial relations – certification of unions, labour-management relations, collective bargaining and unfair labour practices
Workplace health and safety
· Employment standards, including general holidays, annual vacations, working hours, unjust dismissals, minimum wage, layoff procedures and severance pay.
Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006
A labour is defined under the law of Bangladesh in Section 2(65) of the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006.
“Labour” 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.
· Anyone employed for primarily clerical purpose would come within the definition of ‘Labour’. However someone appointed for managerial or administrative post with some clerking job would be outside of the purview of the Labour Act, 2006.
· The Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 is written in Bangla.
Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees through the Fundamental Principles of the State policy provided for in the Constitution relating to workers are to be found in:
· Article 14- Emancipation of Peasants and workers, which requires the State to emancipate peasants and workers from all forms of exploitation;
· Article 15- Provision of Basic Necessities, which holds the State responsible to ensure the right to work, that is the right to guaranteed employment at a reasonable wage having regard to the quantity and quality of work, and reasonable rest, recreation and leisure;
· Article 20(1) Work as a right and duty, which recognises work as a right and requires that, “everyone shall be paid for work on the basis of the principle from each according to his abilities, to each according to his work.”
Since there are loopholes in the Constitution of Bangladesh, the additional Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 adopted by Parliament replaced earlier legislation, including the Factories Act, 1965 and the Factories Rules, 1979, which had established a framework for safeguarding workers’ rights and decent conditions of work in industrial establishments. The new Act codified 25 labour laws and reaffirmed the rights of workers to:
· Proper wages and benefits that ensure an adequate standard of living for workers and their families
· Equal pay for equal work and non-discrimination
· Regulated time of work and prohibition on forced labour or slavery
· Safe, secure and healthy working environment
· Fair compensation in cases of work-related death or injury
· Right to organize trade unions for collective bargaining
· Freedom of children from exploitation
· Proper sanitation facilities, dining facilities, maternity leave, childcare facilities and human resource development
According to Bangladesh Labour Law, 2006, under the Chapter III- Employment of Adolescent in Article 34 clearly states that:
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.
In addition to that, to support the labour fundamental rights of Constitution of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Labour Law Act 2006, has also stated in the Chapter III- Employment of Adolescent in Article 35:
Prohibition of certain agreement in respect of children:
Subject to the provisions of this chapter, no person, being the parent or guardian of a child, shall make an agreement, to allow the service of the child to be utilized in any employment.
To protect the exploitation of labour or forced labour, Bangladesh Law Labour Act has introduced some more articles in Chapter III- Employment of Adolescent so that fundament right of labours in the Constitution of Bangladesh can be clarified. The articles state that:
Article-39- Restriction of employment of adolescent in certain work:
No adolescent shall be allowed in any establishment to clean, lubricate of adjust any part of machinery while that part is in motion or to work between moving parts, of any machinery which is in motion.
Article 40-Employment of adolescent on dangerous machines:
(1) No adolescent shall work at any machine unless-
(a) he has been fully instructed as to the dangers arising in connection with the machine and the precautions to be observed, and-
(b) has received sufficient training in work at the machine, or is under adequate supervision by a person who has thorough knowledge and experience of the machine,36
(2) This provision shall apply to such machines as may be notified by the government to be of such a dangerous character that an adolescent ought not to work at them unless the requirements of sub-section (1) are complied with.
(3) The Government may from time to time publish in the official gazette the list such of hazardous works where, no adolescent shall be employed.
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-42 Prohibition of employment of adolescent in underground and under-water word:
No adolescent shall be employed in any underground or underwater work.
Any individual or institution engaged in forcing labours will violate the Constitution of Bangladesh and Bangladesh Labour Law Act, and hence therefore the individual or the institution will be punished accordingly.
Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 has provided some penalties for violating labour law and fundamental rights of labour in the Chapter XIX Penalty and Procedure.
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.
Article-285 Penalty for making agreement in respect of a child in contravention of section -35:
Whoever, being the parent or guardian of a child, makes an agreement in respect of such child in contravention of section 35, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to one thousand taka.
291. Penalty for unfair labour practices:
(1) whoever 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.
After going all through different laws written in the Constitution of Bangladesh and the laws that written more detailed in the Bangladesh Labour Law Act, that Bangladesh government is strongly concerned to prohibit forced labours and any one violating will punished according to the law.
· The Constitution of The People’s Republic of Bangladesh, printed with latest amendment April, 2008
· Bangladesh Labour Law Act 2006 http://complytex.com/bangladesh_labor/Bangladesh_Labor_Law.pdf
· 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- The Modern Slavery, http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?reportid=85617