Social dialogues are to be launched in various industries to empower women and strengthen unions across the country, speakers said during a discussion yesterday.
Social dialogues have proven to be essential in resolving many disputes in the industrial sector, as they help participants find amicable solutions.
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In addition, factory owners and union leaders should learn to respect each other so that their industries can function properly.
âSo we need social dialogues in factories and beyond,â said Rubana Huq, former president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“Strong alternative dispute resolution is something that we can collectively see as a solution,” she added.
The former BGMEA chief went on to say that some 1,154 garment factories have received loans from a government-sponsored stimulus package, indicating the high number of compliant factories.
However, very few people talk about how to get better unit prices for clothing items.
Another example is how garment shipments from Bangladesh have fallen 2.53 percent to Europe over the past four years, but no one is talking about it.
Huq was speaking at a discussion on âSocial Dialogue as a Mechanism for Gender Equality in the Labor Market – Experiences from the RMG Sector in Bangladeshâ, held in Westin, Dhaka.
The Swedish Embassy in Dhaka, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Global Deal, taking into account the Team Europe initiative entitled âDecent Workâ, jointly organized the discussion which was moderated by Tuomo Poutiainen, Director national ILO.
âWe cannot ignore half of the world’s population,â said Ann Linde, Swedish Foreign Minister.
“We say that the Swedish government is the first feminist government in the world, and as foreign minister I have a feminist foreign policy, but what does that mean in this context?” she asked.
âWell, a natural part of this policy is to work for gender equality, including in the labor market,â she said.
âIn today’s globalized economy, globalization must work for everyone. Strengthening gender equality in the labor market is not only the right thing to do, it is also the economically smart thing to do. do in any society, âshe added.
Recognizing the importance of social dialogues, Ziaur Rahman, regional manager of H&M, a major international clothing buyer, said his company sources clothing from 300 factories in Bangladesh.
All the factories from which H&M sources locally made clothing are strictly compliant, and about 10 percent of supervisors are women.
In these factories there are elected bodies, he said.
Shirin Akter, president of the National Workers’ Alliance, said social dialogues were important for creating decent working conditions in factories.
China Rahman, women’s secretary at IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, a global union, said social dialogues were good if they were in favor of workers.
Many workers were made redundant during the Covid-19 pandemic but very few people are speaking out for them, she said.
Begum Shamsunnahar Bhuiyan, executive president of the Mahila Sramik League, said healthy unions are also needed for social dialogues.
Bangladesh is already a world champion of green clothing factories with 152 units, which also indicates the globally accepted compliance practiced by these companies.
Md Shahriar Alam, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also spoke at the event.