Labour and industry

 

Labour Law and policies

Bangladesh’s labour laws and policies are framed through constitutional provisions. Bangladesh’s constitution guarantees workers’ welfare and the dignity of labour. It also guarantees employment at a reasonable wage and the right to social security. Bangladesh formulated its National Labour Policy in 2012. This aims to ensure an investment-friendly atmosphere and create a productive, exploitation-free workplace for citizens. Bangladesh enacted its Labour Law in 2006 and amended this in 2018. A detailed set of legal rules for the law, the Bangladesh Labour Rules, was formulated in 2015. The policy framework is in place to ensure the rights of workers. Bangladesh also formulated the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy in 2013 and the National Child Labour Elimination Policy in 2010 in order to ensure a safe environment for workers and address the issue of child labour.

Industrial Policy

Bangladesh formulated its latest Industrial Policy in 2022. Its previous versions were in 1973, 1975, 1982, 2005, 2010 and 2016. The Policy is designed to expand the economy, create jobs and harmonise public–private efforts. It also aims at reducing poverty and unemployment by harnessing the IT-based Fourth Industrial Revolution. The target is to balance the interests of workers and entrepreneurial development. With a view to mitigating the scarcity of skilled workers in the industrial sector, the Policy stresses the need for training. At present, the Policy is undergoing a reform.

Occupational Safety and Health Policy

Bangladesh formulated its targeted workers’ safeguard policy, the Occupational Safety and Health Policy, in 2013. This ensures the safety of workers while increasing industrial productivity. It applies to all workplaces, in both the formal and the informal sectors.

Accord on Fire and Building Safety

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety (Accord) was a unique initiative by transnational stakeholders of Bangladesh’s garments industry. It was a workers’ rights pact, signed in 2013, after an alarming industrial hazard that came to be known as the ‘Rana Plaza Collapse.’ The prime aim was to collectively improve the sustainability practices of Bangladesh’s garments sector.

This was an internationally important initiative because Bangladesh was a top supplier of clothing in the world market. It would help upgrade Bangladesh’s garments industry to meet its obligations regarding international standards. The pact was between 180 apparel corporations from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, 2 international trade unions (IndustriALL and UNI Global Union) and 7 Bangladeshi trade unions, to improve working conditions in Bangladesh’s garments industry. Bangladesh’s government was the main implementor, while the International Labour Organization (ILO) played a supporting role.

EU Sustainability Compact

The EU Sustainability Compact was a specialised tripartite agreement between the EU, the Government of Bangladesh and ILO signed in 2013. It was a workers’ rights pact, signed in 2013, after an alarming industrial hazard that came to be known as the ‘Rana Plaza Collapse.’ The prime aim was to collectively improve the sustainability practices of Bangladesh’s garments sector.

This was an important initiative because Bangladesh was a top supplier of clothing in the EU market. It would help upgrade Bangladesh’s garments industry to meet its obligations regarding international standards. It ensured collective bargaining, freedom of association, occupational safety, factory building standards and responsible business conduct.

Alliance for Bangladesh Workers’ Safety

The Alliance for Bangladesh’s Workers’ Safety (Alliance) was a self-initiated agreement between 26 North American apparel brands in 2013. It aimed to improve workplace safety in more than 580 garment factories in Bangladesh. It was a workers’ rights pact, signed in 2013, after an alarming industrial hazard that came to be known as the ‘Rana Plaza Collapse.’ The prime aim was to collectively improve the sustainability practices of Bangladesh’s garments sector. It was an important initiative because Bangladesh was a top supplier of clothing in the North American market. The Alliance was a five-year plan for capacity-building and oversight in Bangladesh’s garments sector.

Department of Labour

Bangladesh’s go-to overall labour-related support agency is the Department of Labour. This provides services such as in the registration of labour unions, labour dispute resolution and labour rights oversight.

 

Enterprise and innovation

 

Small and Medium Enterprise Policy

Bangladesh formulated its Small Medium Enterprise (SME) Policy in 2019. This identifies SMEs as a core driver of the economy. The 7.8 million mapped SMEs across the country contribute 25% of gross domestic product.  The main target is to formalise them by linking them with finance, technology and markets. The strategic objectives include introducing a guarantee fund, providing soft condition loans to SMEs, assisting start-ups, providing training, offering facilities for women entrepreneurs, preparing a data server for SMEs and promoting environmentally friendly SME industries.

Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation

The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation is a government-established non-profit for SME development in Bangladesh. It is licensed by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Commerce. It implements SME policy strategies adopted by the government. It also has an advocacy arm. It facilitates financial support for SMEs and provides skills development and capacity development training. At the core of its mission is poverty eradication.

Small, Micro and Cottage Industry Foundation

The Small, Micro and Cottage Industries Foundation is a Bangladesh government-owned organisation that has the mission of alleviating poverty through spurring on very small-scale industries. Its additional mandates are to facilitate women’s entrepreneurship, youth-centric self-employment and rural industries.

Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy

Bangladesh formulated its cutting-edge innovation protection guide, the Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy, in 2018. This was crafted to transform the country into a knowledge and technology base. It uses Intellectual Property (IP) as a tool for socioeconomic development. It provides a framework to create awareness, promote innovation and creativity; develop IP infrastructure; integrate IP with policy-making; and link the domestic with the international IP system.

Aspire to Innovate (a2i)

Aspire to Innovate (a2i) is a government-led initiative in Bangladesh for scaling public sector innovations. It has programmatic scope in fostering public service innovation, social innovation, pro-poor fintech innovations and the empowerment of youth with future skills.

Bangladesh Computer Council

Bangladesh Computer Council is an independent government agency, that helps formulate IT-related policies in Bangladesh. It maintains a centralised public data centre.

Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy

Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) is a publicly financed platform to upskill and spur entrepreneurship in the IT sector in Bangladesh. It promotes a co-working culture and acts as an incubation hub. IDEA is a project of the Bangladesh Computer Council, Bangladesh’s prime advocacy agency for IT policies.

Startup Bangladesh

Startup Bangladesh is a venture capital fund of Bangladesh’s government. It invests in equity and the pre-seed phase in startups. It also provides grants to specific social innovation initiatives. It mainly supports technology-based innovations that have a job-creation edge.

 

Local governance

 

Union Parishad (local government) Act

Bangladesh enacted its defining local constituency legal framework, the Union Parishad Act, in 2009. This defines the lowest rural electoral unit, known locally as the union parishad. There are 4,500 union parishads in Bangladesh. This is also the lowest tier of local (rural) government institutions offering doorstep citizen services. For Bangladesh’s rural areas, it is an extremely important entity for development planning, service delivery, governance and accountability. The union parishad is governed by 15 elected members, of whom 3 must be women. It has a set of added regulations with an implementation strategy.

Upazila (subdistrict) Parishad Act

Bangladesh enacted its subdistrict (locally known as upazila) defining governance law, the Upazila Parishad Act, in 1998. This went through various politicised tinkering, and was last amended in 2015. The upazila is both a local government electoral unit (the second lowest) and an executive/administrative subunit (the lowest). This tier of the local government system is locally called the upazila parishad. The upazila is governed by a chair, two vice-chairs (at least one a woman) and representatives of all elected government bodies within its area. It has a set of added regulations with an implementation strategy.

Zila (district) Parishad Act

Bangladesh enacted its district (locally known as zila) defining governance law, the Zila Parishad Act, in 2000. The zila is both a local government electoral unit (the third lowest) and an executive/administrative subunit (the second lowest). This tier of the local government system is locally called the zila parishad. There are three types of local government units operating under the jurisdiction of the zila parishad. The zila parishad consists of a chair and 18 members, of whom 5 must be women. The law is not effective in the southeastern semi-autonomous region of the Chittagong Hills, where local governance is carried out via the norms of the indigenous peoples. The law was amended in 2016.

Paurashava (small town) Act

Bangladesh enacted its small town (locally known as paurashava) defining governance law, the Paurashava Act, in 2009. This defines the lowest urban electoral unit. There are 329 paurashavas in Bangladesh. This is also the lowest tier of local (urban) government institutions offering doorstep citizen services. For Bangladeshis residing in urban areas outside of big cities, it is an extremely important entity for development planning, service delivery, governance and accountability. It has a set of added regulations with an implementation strategy.

Local Government Division

Bangladesh’s apex body for urban governance is its Local Government Division, housed in the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. This covers two major categories of urban governments, through the city corporations (for the country’s 12 largest cities) and the small-town municipalities (pourashavas).

 

Rural governance and agro-economy

 

Rural Development Policy

Bangladesh formulated its rural-areas oriented policy, the Rural Development Policy, in 2001. This addresses a constitutional obligation to raise the living standards of the rural population. It is a guideline for rural development initiatives, such as grassroots community development projects and non-farm sector employment strategies.

Cooperative Policy

Bangladesh formulated its prime cooperative fostering strategy, the Cooperative Policy, in 2012. The previous version of this was in 1989. It focuses on rural farming communities and bringing farmers into a cooperative-style marketing framework.

Bangladesh Rural Development Board

Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB) is Bangladesh’s apex regulatory body for rural development and poverty alleviation. It provides institutionalised support to farmers and landless people. Its main activities are production-oriented schemes, cooperative expansion and rural women-focused projects.

Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development

Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (BARD) is the prime long-running institution for research and innovation on rural development. It has developed some innovative rural development programmes and models. Many functional institutions, like the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB), the Small Farmers Development Foundation (SFDF) and the Comprehensive Village Development Programme (CVDP), have emerged as an outcome of BARD’s innovative works.

Agriculture Policy

Bangladesh formulated the first holistic Agriculture Policy in 1999. This was revised in 2010, 2013 and 2018 as a result of dynamic shifts within the sector. Agriculture has acted as the base for Bangladesh’s economy in its developmental years. Bangladesh’s rural areas make up 63% of the country, with agriculture prominent in these zones. The sector employs 41% of the people and contributes 14% to total gross domestic product. The Policy is designed to slash poverty and ensure food security. Its main features are increasing crop output, profitability and employment in rural regions. It lays out methods for protecting agricultural lands, slowing biodiversity loss and dealing with natural disasters such as droughts and floods that threaten agricultural resources. The Policy also envisions a renewed ‘green revolution.’

Agricultural Extension Policy

Bangladesh formulated its maiden agricultural extension policy in 1996, titled the New Agricultural Extension Policy. This was framed to speed up the crops, fisheries and forestry technologies distribution process. The principal goal was to facilitate technology transfer into Bangladesh’s agricultural system with the participation of development partners. Bangladesh adopted a renewed Agricultural Extension Policy in 2020. This focuses on tech integration through agricultural research, mechanised farming tools and Internet of Things-based production systems.

Agricultural Mechanisation Policy

Bangladesh devised its first farm mechanisation policy, the National Agricultural Mechanisation Policy, in 2020. This envisions a transition to efficient and commercial agriculture through mechanisation and aims to ensure sustainable food and nutrition security. The main objectives are to reduce the cost of farming, upskill agricultural labour, increase cropping intensity, strengthen research and development and incubate local agro-machinery manufacturing.

 

Energy and climate

 

Energy Policy

Bangladesh first formulated its Energy Policy in 1996. The main objective of this was to provide energy for sustainable economic growth. The Policy covered the survey, exploration, distribution, production and transmission of energy. It was updated in 2004.

Renewable Energy Policy

Bangladesh formulated its Renewable Energy Policy in 2008. This aims to harness the potential of renewable energy resources and the dissemination of renewable technologies in both rural and urban areas. It incentivises investment in the renewable energy sector. It is designed to scale up the contribution of renewable energy in electricity production.

Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority

Bangladesh established its renewable energy agency, the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), in 2012. SREDA is a nodal agency for sustainable energy uptake, covering the renewable energy and energy efficiency elements. It brought together all renewable projects that were previously being implemented by different government agencies without any overarching strategy. Its long-term goal is to ensure the energy security of the country.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Rules

Bangladesh formulated its go-to regulation for energy savings, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Rules, in 2016. This has multidimensional energy efficiency strategies. It also details essentials such as minimum energy efficiency performance standards.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Master Plan

Bangladesh formulated its long-term energy conservation plan, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Master Plan (EECMP), in 2016. This stipulates that the country will increase its energy intensity by 20% by 2030, compared with in 2013. It is complemented by an action plan containing programme frameworks and the organisation structure.

Environment Policy

Bangladesh adopted its Environment Policy in 2019. This addresses the challenges of environment and biodiversity conservation. It is a tool for the overall environmental conservation management of the country. It emphasises the mountain environment, water life security and eco-friendly tourism. The Policy also identifies 24 areas of interventions mandated to different regulatory bodies.

Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan

Bangladesh formulated its signature Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) in 2009. Bangladesh is the first country among developing countries to formulate such an integrated action plan. The Plan deals with the adverse impacts of climate change. It identifies 44 programmes under 6 themes. It identifies realistic adaptation and mitigation efforts to counter climate change challenges.

Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund

Bangladesh established an earmark fund called the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) in 2010. It is a publicly-financed revenue to ensure investment in disaster preparedness and to smooth the implementation of the country’s climate policies. The Fund can be accessed by both government agencies and civil society groups.

Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100

Bangladesh adopted its landmark Delta Plan 2100 in 2018. This long-term integrated strategy is one of the most comprehensive development documents in terms of addressing the adverse impacts of climate change posed by the country’s deltaic formation. The Plan channels environmentally sensitive financing into development initiatives. It also focuses on water management to minimise the damage of river floods. It has the following six goals: to ensure safety from climate-related disasters; to enhance water security; to manage an integrated river system; to conserve wetlands; to develop equitable governance; and to support trans-boundary water resources.

Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan 2030

Bangladesh unveiled its Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan – Decade 2030 in 2021. This is an instrument to convert climate vulnerability into opportunity. It also set an example for the Climate Vulnerability Forum – an international platform of the countries most impacted by climate change. It is named after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh. It is designed to protect Bangladesh’s economy from climate hazards in times ahead.