Trade unions carve path towards eradicating child labour in Bangladesh

Feb 2024
United Nations
Child Labour, Bangladesh

In a concerted effort to tackle the pervasive issue of child labour in Bangladesh, a one-day national workshop titled "Elimination of Child Labour in Bangladesh" was convened in Dhaka on 10 February 2024. Hosted by the ITUC-Asia Pacific and the ITUC-Bangladesh Council (ITUC-BC), the workshop aimed to accelerate efforts towards eradicating child labour and enhance awareness among trade unions in Bangladesh.

The workshop, attended by 34 participants from the six federations of the ITUC Bangladesh Council, delved into various dimensions of the problem and charted a roadmap for action.

It commenced with a welcome address by Aminur Rashid Repon Chowdhury, General Secretary of the Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC), emphasizes the necessity of working together to eradicate child labour. This was followed by insightful remarks from Md. Shahidullah Badal, Acting General Secretary of the Bangladesh Metal Workers’ Federation (BMSF), who highlighted the past efforts of trade unions to push for the ratification of ILO Convention 138. Dr. S M Fahimuddin Pasha, ITUC-Asia Pacific’s Director of Workers’ Rights, presented the Durban Call to Action, the first document signed by children themselves, expressing their desire for decision-makers to intensify their efforts in eradicating child labour.

Mr. Shakil Akhter Chowdhury, General Secretary of the Bangladesh Labour Federation (BLF), emphasised the importance of a unified approach involving unions, parents, educators, and government agencies to address policy gaps and enforce regulations effectively. Several other speakers shed light on the gravity of the issue and underscored the need for concerted action.

Md. Mosarraf Hosain, Assistant Director at the Department of Labour, provided valuable insights into the government's efforts in improving demographic data and accelerating the progress in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the implementation of ILO Conventions 138 and 182.

In brief, the workshop identified the sectors where child labourers are involved, the various challenges in the elimination of child labour, such as the policy gaps and weak enforcement of existing laws. It also recognised the necessity of collaboration among unions, parents, educators, and the government to make significant progress towards elimination of child labour.

The workshop also recognised the role of trade unions in accelerating the progress in eliminating child labour by organising workers, organising rescue missions, and advocating for stricter regulations and more effective enforcement.

Going forward, unions demand for increased funding for adult education and skills development as well as the decent job creation, job security, and social protection to end the cycle of poverty that perpetuates to child labour.

In the group discussions, the participants focused on identifying actionable strategies for trade unions to combat child labour effectively. Participants presented comprehensive plans aimed at raising awareness, promoting education, and advocating for stronger enforcement mechanisms.

The workshop concluded with a sense of determination and commitment from all participants to work tirelessly towards more equitable future for all children in Bangladesh. Shoya Yoshida, ITUC-Asia Pacific General Secretary, said:

“We applaud the strong commitment of the trade unions to eradicate child labour in Bangladesh. It is through our collaboration and actionable strategies that we pave the path towards creating a society free from the scourge of child labour and where every child's rights are upheld.”

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