CHAPTER XXVI

LABOUR AND MANPOWER

 

26.1 Introduction

 

26.1.1 Bangladesh is densely populated with limited resources. Nevertheless, its vast manpower constitutes a potential resource for development; so human resource development is one of the main objectives of the Fifth Plan alongside generating productive employment opportunities. This is necessary not only to accelerate the process of poverty alleviation but also to survive in a competitive market economy. To meet these challenges in the Fifth Plan period the labour and manpower sector will concentrate on three-fold objectives: generation of productive employment; human resource development (HRD); and poverty alleviation.

 

26.2 Review of Past Development

 

26.2.1 The formulation of planning for development of manpower and improving welfare of the labour was laid in the First Plan. Besides completing rehabilitation and reconstruction work following the War of Liberation, 7 new technical training centres and 12 vocational training institutes were set-up during the First Plan and the Two Year Plan. No marked progress was made in the Second and Third Plan.

 

26.2.2 During the Fourth Plan, government took some steps to raise domestic employment opportunities and sought employment opportunities in other countries to absorb surplus manpower. As a result, Bangladesh earned a major portion of its foreign exchange from remittances by Bangladeshis working abroad. Vocational training institutes in the country produced skilled manpower, not only for use and employment within but also for export.

 

26.2.3 A sum of Tk. 850.00 million was earmarked for the labour and manpower sector during the Fourth Plan for the implementation of twenty-four projects under various organisations/ agencies. Out of Tk. 850.00 million, a total of Tk. 180.00 million was spent. A total of ten projects were completed out of twenty-four projects during the Plan period.

 

26.2.4 Skill development programmes were carried out through 11 Technical Training Centres and Bangladesh Institute of Marine Technology. Non-institutional programmes in the forms of apprenticeship, in-plant and up-gradation training for the workers and supervisory personnel of the industry were introduced. The Technical Training Centres also offered special self-employment oriented training courses for other agencies such as the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Water Development Board, Technical Education Directorate, some leading hotels, private industries and non-government organisations. The training performance of the Technical Training Centres and Bangladesh Institute of Marine Technology under the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) is shown in Table 26.1.

 

26.2.5 The Employment Services Wing of BMET engaged in implementing a programme of self-employment and micro enterprise development side by side carried out its usual functions such as collection and analysis of labour market information, registration, referral and vocational guidance for enhancing self-employment. The output of BMET in the area of self-employment programmes and foreign employment is shown in Table 26.2.

 

 

 

Table 26.1

Training Performance of BMET During Fourth Plan

 

(in numbers)

Year

Institutional

Training

Apprenticeship

Training

Language Training

for Nurses

1990/91

1,128

429

-

1991/92

2,862

275

-

1992/93

2,518

309

-

1993/94

3,605

354

238

1994/95

4,283

364

241

Total

14,396

1,731

479

 

Source : Ministry of Labour and Manpower.

 

Table 26.2

Employment Programmes of BMET During Fourth Plan

 

(in numbers)

Year

Self-Employment

Foreign Employment

1990/91

2,300

96,691

1991/92

2,200

1,85,257

1992/93

2,450

2,37,779

1993/94

1,500

1,92,184

1994/95

1,000

1,99,925

Total

9,450

9,11,836

 

Source : Ministry of Labour and Manpower

 

26.2.6 Placement of migrant workers was almost entirely carried out by the private recruiting agents. A small portion was handled by the Bangladesh Overseas Employment Services Ltd. (BOESL) and Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training. The Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training took up significant measures to promote overseas employment. Overseas employment initially increased and then declined somewhat in the post-Gulf War period. Remittances increased during Fourth Plan as shown in Table 26.3.

 

26.2.7 A stipend programme was undertaken to encourage and assist the trainees in skill development. During the Fourth Plan a total of 13,989 stipends were given .

 

26.2.8 Some programmes were undertaken to promote sound labour/industrial relations, maintenance of industrial peace and labour welfare to attract foreign and domestic investment. The activities of the Department of Labour in this respect are depicted in Table 26.4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 26.3

Trend in Overseas Employment and Remittances (1990-95)

 

Year

Overseas Employment

(Nos.)

Remittances

(in million Taka)

1990/91

96,691

27,256.10

1991/92

1,85,257

32,415.00

1992/93

2,37,779

36,984.30

1993/94

1,92,184

43,549.00

1994/95

1,99,925

48,144.00

Total

9,11,836

1,88,348.40

 

Source : Ministry of Labour and Manpower.

 

Table 26. 4

Activities of Department of Labour (1990-95)

 

Year

No. of

Disputes

No. of Disputes Disposed

No. of Trade Unions

Registered

No. of

Members of Unions

No. of Courses Conducted through Industrial Relations Institute

No. of

Participants

1990/91

576

570

244

-

-

3,345

1991/92

1,632

1,627

282

46,294

58

965

1992/93

729

720

289

44,483

50

1,578

1993/94

332

324

268

32,547

55

1,814

1994/95

790

780

315

-

-

3,210

Total

4,059

4,021

1,398

1,23,324

163

10,912

 

Source: Ministry of Labour and Manpower.

 

26.3 Two Years Between Fourth and Fifth Plans

 

26.3.1 During 1995/96, an amount of Tk.74.6 million was allocated for implementation of sixteen projects out of which Tk.50.31 million was spent and two projects were completed. In the Annual Development Programme 1996/97, a total of Tk.90.00 million was allocated for implementation of fifteen projects. Ten ongoing projects are expected to spill over to Fifth Plan.

 

26.4 Objectives of Fifth Plan

 

26.4.1 Within the broad framework of overall national development perspective of poverty alleviation and human resource development (HRD), and keeping in view the changing requirements, the major objectives of this sector during the Fifth Plan will be to:

 

  1. generate employment opportunities within and outside the country;
  2. raise productivity of labour through skill development and upgradation of technology under the overall human resource development strategy of the government;
  3. ensure fair wages, welfare and social protection of workers under the structural adjustment programmes adopted by the government;
  4. accord higher priority on self-employment and set up a specialised employment bank to this end;
  5. ensure access of women in vocational training and employment;
  6. maintain industrial peace and a congenial atmosphere for domestic investment and also for attracting foreign investment;
  7. develop informal sector as a residual source of employment for the growing unemployed work-force;
  8. encourage private institutions/organisations to participate in imparting training for human development;
  9. strengthen institutional capabilities by introducing indigenous and modern technologies;
  10. initiate steps to protect children from economic exploitation;
  11. make legal reforms more effective for regulating private manpower recruiting agencies; and
  12. strengthen the wage earners welfare fund at important overseas destinations of Bangladeshi workers.

 

26.5 Strategies for Fifth Plan

 

26.5.1 To achieve the above mentioned objectives, the following strategies will be pursued during the Fifth Plan period:

 

  1. existing labour related laws, rules, regulations and directives will be reviewed and necessary modifications will be done in pursuing the sectoral activities;
  2. special stress will be laid on elimination of child labour gradually and to protect children from economic exploitation and hazardous work;
  3. emphasis will be given on determination of wages by bargaining between management and workers instead of through implementing award of the wage commission;
  4. attempt will be made to utilise the non-government organisations as active development partners in generation of self-employment and welfare activities with thrust on women in development;
  5. in order to ensure participation of different segments of population in skill development training and self-employment activities, local government institutions at district, upazila and union level will be involved very effectively;
  6. immigration will be encouraged, and in consultation with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Home, efforts will be made to simplify the present immigration procedures;
  7. existing licensing system of manpower recruiting agencies will be evaluated and reviewed in the light of experiences of the neighbouring labour exporting countries to open up manpower export trade for better competition and for eliminating the multi-tier middlemen operators;
  8. steps will be taken to introduce exemplary punishment system for fraudulent activities and for extortionist practices in manpower export trade;
  9. the internal system of cautioning the Bangladeshi foreign job seekers about the unfriendly and adverse conditions in some countries will be strengthened and intensified;
  10. steps will be taken through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to set up and operate worker's information and welfare centres/services in embassies at major overseas destinations of Bangladeshi workers;
  11. a study will be undertaken to ascertain the applicability and potential to collect wage earners remittances by the private sector at competitive exchange rates and float attractive bonds for investment of remittances in different fields of economic development such as agriculture, small scale industries and infrastructure building activities, etc.; and
  12. an employment bank will be set up for funding self-employment.