Report says, Bangladesh Among Worst 10 for Labor Rights2 min read

Bangladesh continues to be listed among the 10 worst countries for labor rights in 2024, marking the eighth consecutive year of poor performance since 2017, according to the 2024 ITUC Global Rights Index released on Wednesday. The other countries included in this list are Belarus, Ecuador, Egypt, Eswatini, Guatemala, Myanmar, the Philippines, Tunisia, and Türkiye.

The report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) provides a detailed review of workers’ rights based on law, ranking 151 countries against 97 indicators derived from International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions and jurisprudence. This makes it the only database of its kind. Countries are rated on a scale from 1 to 5+ based on their respect for workers’ rights, with violations recorded annually from April to March. Bangladesh received a rating of 5, indicating no guarantee of rights for workers.

The index highlights severe state repression faced by Bangladeshi workers, including violent crackdowns on peaceful protests by industrial police and intimidation to prevent the formation of unions. In 2023, several garment sector workers were killed by police during protests, and a union leader was murdered. Worker strikes were frequently met with police brutality, and efforts to form unions in the garment sector, which employs 4.5 million workers, were hindered by a stringent registration process, with 50% of applications rejected. Additionally, union activity was obstructed in Bangladesh’s eight Export Processing Zones.

In 2024, a total of 22 trade unionists died due to their activism in countries including Bangladesh, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea. The report noted the murder of Shahidul Islam, a leader of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, who was killed in Gazipur on April 25, 2023, after addressing a dispute over unpaid wages. Islam and other union officials were brutally attacked by a gang after leaving the factory.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle emphasized that the Index has tracked a rapid decline in workers’ rights over the past 11 years in every region. He stated, “Workers are the heart of democracy, and their right to be heard is crucial for the health and sustainability of democratic systems.” The report also indicated that the Middle East and North Africa continue to be the world’s worst regions for workers’ rights, with an average rating of 4.74, a significant deterioration from 4.53 in 2023. However, the ratings for Romania and Brazil have shown improvement in 2024.

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