Bangladesh is one of the ‘worst’ places in the world to work, where workers’ rights are not guaranteed, according to a global survey.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), in a survey launched on Wednesday, ranks Bangladesh, along with 27 other countries, on the fifth category-a sign of “no guarantee of rights”.

It, however, referred to the readymade garment sector, where physical force, sexual intimidation and threats of physical assault and dismissal are often used to stop workers from organising.

China, India, Malaysia, Belarus, Cambodia, Turkey, Pakistan and Qatar are other countries ranked on the same category of worst countries for workers in the world.

“While the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have collectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices,” the report reads about the countries that ranked at five.

The 2015 ITUC’s Global Rights Index, which ranked 141 countries on 1-5 categories against 97 internationally-recognised indicators, showed how well they were protecting employment rights such as freedom of association, collective bargaining and the rights to strike, was published for the second time.

The ITUC had been collecting data on abuse of trade union rights around the world for the past 30 years. Now for the second time the ITUC Global Rights Index presents verified information from the last 12 months so that every government and business can see how their laws and supply chains have deteriorated or improved.

The key findings of the ITUC are: Out of a total of 141 countries, the number where workers faced arbitrary arrest and detention increased from 35 to 44, and included countries such as Spain and Brazil.

In almost 60 per cent of countries, certain types of workers are excluded from their fundamental labour rights and unionists were murdered in 11 countries, one up from last year, including 22 deaths in Colombia alone, it revealed.

Seventy per cent of countries have workers with no right to strike while two thirds of countries deny workers collective bargaining rights.

The 2015 ITUC Global Index found more than half of countries in the survey deny workers access to the rule of law.

Nine countries including Syria, Central African Republic and Palestine scored even worse at 5+. This rating linked to dysfunctional legislations as a result of internal conflict and/or military occupation. Workers in those countries have equally limited rights as workers with the rating five.

Systematic violations of rights have been reported in 27 countries including Poland and the USA and the ITUC ranked them 4th.

Regular violations of rights have been found in 36 countries including Israel and Australia and they ranked 3rd.

The number of second ranking countries is 26 including Japan and Ireland where rights are violated repeatedly, according to the index.

There are 16 countries including Finland and Uruguay ranked top. Irregular violations of rights are found there. Collective labour rights are generally guaranteed, workers can freely associate and defend their rights collectively. Violations against workers are not absent but not occur on a regular basis.

“Workers in the Gulf States where the draconian ‘kafala’ system is widespread endure many of the violations which make the Middle East and North Africa the world’s worst region for fundamental rights at work,” said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow is a statement.

The ten worst countries for working people are Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and United Arab Emirates, according to the Index, the statement added.

Ivonne Stein
Mrs. Ivonne Stein is a German Legal Advisor with nearly two decades of professional experience both in the private sector and government institution. She gained professional skills in Frankfurt, Zurich, London, New York and Brussels before moving from Islamabad to Dhaka. She advises foreign companies doing business in and with Bangladesh in compliance with the local legislations, labour, social and environmental standards working towards implementation of the relevant UN and ILO conventions as well as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Mrs. Stein can be reached by email at to[at]bangladeshinside.com
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