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Title: The impact of globalisation on workers' rights in export processing zones (EPZs) : the case of the trade union movement in Bangladesh
Author: Ali, Md. Akbar
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 3329
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2011
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The research aimed to investigate the impact of globalisation on workers' rights in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) with reference to the trade union movement in Bangladesh. Trade unions were banned in Bangladesh's EPZs until 2004. Caught by international pressures such as the United States, the ILO and local grassroots mobilisation, the government of Bangladesh passed the 'EPZ Workers' Association and Industrial Relations Act 2004' in July. The Act permitted workers to form trade unions termed locally as "Sramik Sangha" in Bangladesh's EPZs. This research asks what role does "Sramik Sangha", as a trade union representing Bangladesh's EPZ workers; play in overcoming precarious employment conditions? Different types of participants, such as officials of the relevant state agencies, employers' associations, trade union federations, EPZ plant level union representatives, senior EPZ enterprise officials and workers, were involved in this research. These trade unions have helped to achieve some positive results in a number of key areas of workers' rights. For example the trade unions have been able to implement new minimum wage rates, sometimes as a result of labour disputes. However the disputes are in no way always successful and the trade unions are associated with various adversities, fears, risks, harassment and repression during the conflict stage. The research revealed that tight bureaucratic control of the state agents over the EPZ unions imposes some limitations on the independent democratic functions of the unions and presents particular challenges to their traditional organising model. The state agent Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority ( BEPZA) has the power to affect trade unions through cancellation of registration of a trade union on account of severe contravention of any of the provisions of the Act of 2004. Thus there is a call from workers and union leaders for complete waiving of bureaucratic control clauses from the "EPZ Workers' Association and Industrial relations Act 2004" and for recognition of full democratic power for the EPZ trade unions by the government. However, it seems a far reaching goal since employers do not normally want to see strong unions in their enterprise. The research reveals grounds for some optimism. Despite the enormous difficulties that still lie ahead, EPZ trade unions can transform into full democratic trade unions. The process of restructuring trade unions is by no means an easy job. The research concludes by arguing that advocacy from global economic, political, social and other supranational forces such as the International Labour Organisation, the World Trade Organisation, the Organisation of European Community Development, local NGOs and Trade Union Federations could be of vital importance. Future research work focusing upon global solidarity could also make a significant contribution to the field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available