The number of registered trade unions in Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) sector has increased significantly in last seven years. Official data said, there were only 132 registered trade unions in 2012 which rose to 945 until August 2020.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse, the registration of trade unions increased significantly.
The government at the 340th session of the governing body of International Labour Organization (ILO) held last month provided the trade union registration figures.
It said 37 percent of the unions applied for registrations in the RMG sector were rejected in 2014 for several reasons. The rejection rate was 45 percent, 33 percent and 30 percent in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.
The success rate of union registration has gone up after the government had adopted the standard operating procedures (SoPs) in 2017, officials said. The legal changes to simplify the union registration process also encouraged many to apply.
More than 80 percent of the unions were registered in 2018, they said. The success rate fell to 73 percent last year. In 2020, the rate of registration rejection was only 14 percent, they added.
When asked, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said the rise in union registration clearly indicates the commitment of the government and the industry to allow freedom of association to be manifested through the right to join a trade union.