ITUC-BC/JILAF Industrial Relations and Labour Policy Seminar in Bangladesh

Seminar participants

JILAF, together with the Bangladesh Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-BC), held an industrial relations and labour policy seminar in Dhaka on November 21–22.

On the first day, ITUC-BC Acting President Mojibur Rahman Bhuiyan (secretary general of Bangladesh Mukto Sramic Federation [BMSF]) asked for a moment’s silence by everyone present in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka in July 2016. In response, JILAF Deputy General Secretary Ryo Saito said that Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Kono had visited the site of the incident on November 19 and placed flowers there and appealed for the restoration and stability of public security so that such appalling incidents never occur again. JILAF Deputy General Secretary Saito then emphasized the longstanding friendly relations between Japan and Bangladesh and substantial collaboration between JILAF and the ITUC-BC and outlined the purpose of the seminar, which is a consigned project from the Japanese government.

Speaking on behalf of the Bangladesh government, labour, and management, ITUC-BC Acting President Bhuiyan expressed gratitude for the continued support and cooperation of JILAF and the Japanese government. “I would like to express my gratitude once again for the collaboration that has continued for a quarter of a century based on our relations of trust with JILAF,” he said. “This seminar is an excellent opportunity to learn about Japan’s industrial relations and efforts to ensure employment stability. I hope that you will all actively participate.”

In a lecture titled “Japan’s Labour Movement and Constructive Industrial Relations,” JILAF Deputy General Secretary Saito spoke about (1) the history of trade unions in Japan; (2) the present state of trade unions in Japan; (3) the function and role of Japanese trade unions; (4) the rallying and unison of the labour movement to protect the rights and raise the status of workers, including informal-sector workers; (5) the strengthening of trust with workplace union members and efforts by labour and management, with a sense of ownership, to improve the working environment and ensure job stability; and (6) the effectiveness of social dialogue.

JILAF Deputy General Secretary Saito then concluded his lecture by saying, “Today, when information and capital cross borders instantaneously, it is Asia that is driving world economic growth. At the base of the global supply chain, however, the rights of workers are being violated and employment is worsening. I hope that the ITUC-BC will step up its efforts to protect the rights of workers and build constructive industrial relations in companies operating in Bangladesh.”

In response, recognizing that the building of Japanese-style industrial relations would be beneficial for both labour and management, the participants asked questions about such issues as (1) the reasons why RENGO is struggling to increase its organization rate; (2) Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio following the decline of primary industries and the present state of tertiary industries (services); and (3) the relationship between the oil crises and hyperinflation on the one hand and wage increases in Japan in the past. JILAF Deputy General Secretary Saito gave pertinent replies to these questions.

The first day of the seminar ended with a lecture by a local speaker on the social security system in Japan.

On the second day, Deputy Director Enamul Hoque of the Department of Industrial Relations in Bangladesh’s Ministry of Labour and Employment gave a talk on the present state of the labour movement in Bangladesh and issues and solutions toward the building of sound industrial relations.

The participants then divided into three groups (mixing six national centers) to hold discussions, followed by presentations, on the theme of “Toward the building of constructive industrial relations and the protection of workers.”

The main points of the group presentations included the following:
---Contribution to productivity improvement to gain the trust of employers
---Move away from hostile industrial relations through the improvement of employers’ antagonistic attitude toward trade unions and realization of social dialogue
---Solidarity and unison among national centers transcending supported political parties and ideology
---Inclusion in the labour movement and organization of women workers and informal-sector workers
---Realization of social dialogue by the ITUC-BC
---Consideration of national minimum wage system

Finally, JILAF Deputy General Secretary Saito ended the two-day seminar with the following comment: “In order to build constructive industrial relations in companies, it is important not only, of course, to build relations of trust with employers but also to gain the understanding and cooperation of workplace union members through daily communication with them. Also, from the principles of labour-management equality and autonomy, it is important to realize further collaboration among the national centers and to establish a fiscal foundation based on the collection of union dues. I look forward to the steady implementation of today’s action plans.”


11/21TueSeminar day 1
11/22WedSeminar day 2

Photos of the Participants

Scene of the seminar

Group work

Moment’s silence