Labor Law in Bangladesh

Published on 24-Aug-2022

Labor Law

Access to justice is perhaps the most essential and refutable issue of judiciary systems worldwide. One of the essential requirements of the rule of law is that people of all ranks and status must have access to courts for a remedy against illegal and arbitrary acts impinging on their rights and liberty. Owing to various reasons, along with lacking resources and knowledge of legal rights and processes, these conditions have also led to the inability to access (Vulnerable groups such as women, poor people, laborers, aged people, children, etc. Judicial institutions were established to protect and enforce rights guaranteed to persons under the Constitution of Bangladesh and several other laws. However, the area of inaccessibility to justice in Bangladesh is undoubtedly very vast. 

Unfortunately, Bangladesh Constitution does not recognize the right to health as a fundamental right. At the same time, the owners of the industries are taking advantage of the labor and are less concerned about the health condition of these laborers. Where these laborers hold every legal protection for their health issues, in Bangladesh, laws are commonly shown as an object for papers only, and the implementation is far away. Labors are sometimes unaware that they are entitled to certain rights while working in ship-braking industries, and they can take legal action when aggrieved. Furthermore, education plays a vital role in their ignorance about their rights. Poverty certainly holds them as they cannot afford the cost of legal proceedings. Last but not least, the behavior or unwillingness of the legal bodies in charge of filing cases or investigations is a significant cause they stay out of legal protection. 

Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006:

Section 132 of the Labour Act, 2006 provides the provision where any payment of the workers has not been made or betrayed. Section 214 of the act is empowered to settle industrial disputes. Most importantly, section 150 talks about the employer's liability when any workers get injured while working, and the employers are liable to pay compensation. 

According to section 160, a worker is authorized to have a medical examination whenever he gives notice, and the employers are liable to take necessary steps in this regard. Additionally, there are provisions for negotiation, conciliation, and arbitration for settling the industrial dispute in section 214. Moreover, this act also contains provisions for dealing with explosives or flammable dust and gas. Child labor in this ship breaking is widespread, which this act prohibits. There is a specific age limit to get involved in work, but in these industries, several children are aged 12 or 13.

International Laws:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948: 

Article 25(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that 'Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services.

International Labour Organization (ILO):

The ILO organization mainly works to ensure the workers' rights and works for the ship-breaking laborers' violated rights. The ILO Guidelines for Asian Countries and Turkey, 2004, published a list of common hazards that are likely to be reasons for injuries, death, ill health, diseases, and incidents among the workers. ILO has given some guidelines for Asian Countries and Turkey, 2004 ensuring some common factors responsible for injuries, death, ill health, diseases, and incidents among the workers. Some of these essential guidelines are follows.

- The company needs to make a list of all the risky material that will be removed from the ship.

- The employer should ensure that workers are not exposed to hazardous substances to exceed exposure limits after evaluating the working environment.

- The workplace should be regularly inspected, and information should be obtained on hazardous materials that are present and hazardous activities and processes that take place.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989:

This Convention considers everyone under 18 years old as a child unless any earlier age is considered majority by any country's law. Since 1990 Bangladesh has been a member of this Convention. This Convention has protected any inconvenience that happens against a child's will. 

International Labor Organization (ILO) has been working to implement new laws to secure child labor. Section 34 of the Labor act, 2006 prohibits any employment below the age of 34.

Only child labor is not the only issue with the shipyard industries in Bangladesh. There is no administrative body dealing with the industries. There is no implementation of Labor law or other international laws in this regard. No one is taking any step to ensure a safe environment and risky work situation. Most importantly, government bodies are less concerned about the labor rights violation happening every day in the shipyards, and the diplomacy goes through the owners. 


Bangladesh lacks goodwill and proper implementation of laws to protect laborers' rights working in the industries, to some extent to protect labor rights in all sectors. To maintain this problem, the ILO, International Maritime Organization (IMO), and Basel Convention of UNEP have produced guidelines to deal with various issues in this area and established a joint working group to coordinate their activities. YPSA, the first non-governmental organization, has taken some important initiatives to get over this situation and to ensure the workers a better life. In the case of BELA vs. Bangladesh and others (2008), a writ petition had been a field to protect the workers' rights and give them a safe environment. The High Court Division of Bangladesh disposed of the case by giving specific rules and regulations for the ship-breaking workers. This decision is not followed in reality.  

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