Bangladesh has still remained among the 10 worst countries for working people in 2024, for the 8th consecutive year since 2017 as the country has failed to improve its labour rights situation, according to the 2024 ITUC Global Rights Index, published on Wednesday.

The nine other worst countries for working people are Belarus, Ecuador, Egypt, Eswatini, Guatemala, Myanmar, the Philippines, Tunisia and Türkiye.

The report said that it was a comprehensive review of workers’ rights in law, ranking 151 countries against 97 indicators derived from ILO Conventions and jurisprudence, making it the only database of its kind.

Countries are rated on a scale from 1 to 5+ based on their respect for workers’ rights, with violations recorded annually from April to March, the report.

In the report, Bangladesh’s rating was 5 that indicated no guarantee of rights for the workers in the country.

The state minister for labour, Md Nazrul Islam Chowdhury, dismissed the findings of the ITUC Global Rights Index, stating that the report does not reflect the current situation but is based on outdated information.

‘Bangladesh is now the best country globally for workers’ rights,’ the state minister claimed.

The index prepared by the International Trade Union Confederation said that for years, Bangladeshi workers have been facing severe state repression, including violent crackdowns on peaceful protests by the industrial police and intimidation to prevent the formation of unions.

Rejecting the allegations regarding obstacles in trade union registration, Nazrul Islam said that the government has streamlined the process, ensuring its ease and transparency.

He further clarified that with the automated registration process, there is no basis for rejecting trade union applications without valid grounds.

In 2023, several workers in the dominant garment sector were killed by police during protests, and a union leader was murdered, the index said.

It mentioned that workers’ strikes were met with police brutality, and attempts to form unions for the sector’s  4.5 million workers were obstructed by a draconian registration process, which saw 50 per cent of applications rejected.

The report also highlighted that union activity was obstructed and blocked within Bangladesh’s eight Export Processing Zones.

In 2024, a total of 22 trade unionists died for their trade union activism in six countries including Bangladesh, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea, the index showed.

It mentioned that Shahidul Islam, a trade union leader of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, was murdered in Gazipur on April 25, 2023, after visiting a factory to address a dispute over unpaid wages.

Upon leaving the factory, he and other union officials were brutally attacked by a gang.

The report also highlighted that on October 30, 2023, garment workers in Dhaka clashed with police while protesting for higher minimum wages, resulting in the police shooting and killing Md Rasel Hawlader, a 25-year-old maintenance machinist who was not part of the protest.

On November 9, 2023, up to 25,000 workers clashed with police, who used live bullets, batons, and tear gas, leading to the death of 26-year-old Anjuara Khatun and injuring hundreds of workers, the report mentioned.

ITUC general secretary Luc Triangle said that the Index has tracked a rapid decline in workers’ rights for 11 years in every region of the world.

He said that workers were heart of democracy, and their right to be heard was crucial to the health and sustainability of democratic systems.

‘When their rights are violated, democracy itself is attacked. Democracy, trade unions and workers’ rights go together; you simply cannot have one without the other,’ Triangle said.

Trade unions, representing a truly democratic movement, are essential for addressing sustainably by transcending borders, sectors, ages, genders, races, and religions to reshape power dynamics globally in every workplace, country, and institution, he mentioned.

According to the report, the Middle East and North Africa continued to rank as the world’s worst region for workers’ rights with an average rating of 4.74, marking a significant and alarming deterioration from 4.53 in 2023.

It, however, showed that two countries Romania and Brazil have seen their rating improved in 2024.

The report showed that thirteen countries saw their ratings fell in the index in 2024, demonstrating the increased threat to democratic and workers’ rights across the globe.

The countries are Costa Rica, Finland, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Switzerland and Venezuela.

Europe has an average rating of 2.73, down from 2.56 in 2023, continuing a rapid deterioration from 1.84 in 2014 – the biggest decline seen in any region in the world over the past 10 years, the index showed.


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