On December 23, 2021, the Japan International Labour Foundation (JILAF), together with the Bangladesh Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-BC), held an online seminar on industrial relations (IR) and labour policy with participants in Dhaka. In total, there were sixty six participants in attendance.
At the opening ceremony, the ITUC-BC Secretary General thanked JILAF and expressed his hope for the seminar to benefit future activities, the BLF President praised ITUC-BC and JILAF and stated his expectations for the seminar, then the Labor Bureau Director mentioned the importance of tripartite arrangements and the need for cooperation between the government, labour and management. Following this, JILAF President Yasunobu Aihara introduced the work of JILAF, explained their exchanges with Bangladesh thus far,
and expressed their aim to build constructive industrial relations and to improve the lives of workers amidst COVID-19 through them. Lastly, the ITUC-BC President closed the opening ceremony by stating the importance of understanding ILO conventions (Articles 87 and 98) and unionisation.
Afterwards, JILAF Group Leader Naohiro Tsuji gave a presentation under the theme of "The Role of the Japanese Labour Movement and Cooperative Industrial Relations," in which he explained (1) the history and origin of the Japanese labour movement, (2) the composition of Japanese trade unions and the handling of union dues, (3) the spring labour offensive/collective bargaining and the labour-management consultation system, (4) the productivity movement and the three guiding principles of productivity, as well as (5) policy discussions by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation. In addition, he also explained the impact of COVID-19 on workers in Japan, along with the legal response of the Japanese government and the measures taken by trade unions to counter unemployment and loss of income.
After lunch, the Bangladeshi participants explained the state of workers in their country and confirmed the following: (1) Trade unions made up of less than 4% of people in the working population are mostly limited to the public sector or state-owned enterprises; (2) There are thirty six national centers and about 5,550 trade unions; (3) Of the total working population of about 67.2 million, around 2.1 million belong to trade unions; (4) The main sectors are agriculture (38%), industry (21%), and service (40%) (2019); (5) Informal sector workers make up 89% of the work force (agriculture, fisheries, livestock, poultry, agricultural products, industry, textiles, etc.).
Next, the participants were divided into groups for each of the six national centers affiliated with the ITUC-BC. Each group had discussions on "What Can be Done to Build Better Industrial Relations," and then gave presentations on their own challenges and action plans. In response to the presentations, BFTUC Secretary General expressed that the power of organizations is important and solidarity is the key to success. In addition, BSSF Secretary General gave words of gratitude to the enthusiastic discussions made between the participants, and stated that although it is difficult to achieve rapid economic growth like Japan, solidarity between trade unions is necessary in order to do so.
At the closing ceremony, Group Leader Tsuji expressed his anticipation for participants to partake willingly and for women to partake actively in the future. Furthermore, Deputy Secretary General Toshihiro Saito thanked ITUC-BC for its cooperation in holding the seminar, and stated that trade unions are necessary organizations that improve the standard of living for workers, and that the trade union movement in Bangladesh is expected to advance as an improved standard of living for workers leads to economic growth.
In response, the ITUC-BC Secretary General and the ITUC-BC President ended the seminar by expressing their respect and anticipation for JILAF's activities, alongside their hopes for the participants of each of the six national centers to unite and contribute to the future labour movement in Bangladesh.