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International Verification Coordinator Juliette Li recently visited Dhaka, Bangladesh. She shares some of her observations:
I participated in a workshop with representatives of five trade unions and two NGOs, held to discuss current labour conditions in Bangladesh, and to solicit their feedback in the development of FWF’s Workplace Education Programme (WEP). The local organisations also commented on the recent labour unrest in Ashulia, where thousands of garment workers went on strike in June. Harassment at the workplace and lack of communication between workers and management were identified by local stakeholders as two of the factors leading to the protests.
The workshop participants welcomed FWF’s Workplace Education Programme, which in Bangladesh will have a particular emphasis on preventing harassment and gender- based violence. Many factories have set up employer-employee participatory committees, however the WEP will support the establishment of anti-harassment committees, which will be led by women workers.
The urgent need among workers for more knowledge and skills to solve harassment was a clear workshop outcome. Trade union members also encouraged FWF to develop new living wage materials to follow up on research conducted in 2011.