Trade Unions in Bangladesh win universal pensions

photo: Mushfiqul Alam / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP

The ITUC welcomes a new law passed in the Bangladesh parliament which establishes a framework for universal pensions.

This new law represents a breakthrough following intensive advocacy from trade unions, as well as civil society groups, within the Bangladesh Social Protection Advocacy Network (BSPAN) to extend social protection in the country. The new law will provide, for the first time, the possibility for all Bangladeshi workers to benefit from income security in retirement. Previously, the pension system in Bangladesh was limited only to civil servants.

A National Pension Authority is now being set up, and a Governing Body for this authority has been announced, consisting of members of the government as well as employer representatives. Regrettably, however, unions have not been appointed to the Governing Body, despite the fact that international labour standards, namely ILO Convention 102 and Recommendation 202, call for tripartite participation in the management of social protection systems, consisting of both worker and employer representatives.

Owen Tudor, ITUC Deputy General Secretary stressed, “The passage of this new law is a major win for workers in Bangladesh, who will now be guaranteed income security in retirement. However there are still major details to be worked out in the law’s implementation, and trade unions – as representatives of Bangladeshi workers - must have a seat at the table in the National Pension Authority’s Governing Body."