Fair working conditions

German Development Ministry provides support for trade unions in Bangladesh

Workers' rights are topic of discussion during visit by Bangladesh's Labour Minister

Parliamentary State Secretary Hans-Joachim Fuchtel with Bangladesh’s Minister of Labour, Mujibal Haque Chunnu, and other members of the delegation in Berlin

Press release of 09.03.2017 |

BERLIN – Parliamentary State Secretary Hans-Joachim Fuchtel spoke out in favour of better working conditions in Bangladesh, suggesting that there needed to be a responsible approach to dealing with workers and trade unions.

Following his talks with Bangladesh’s Minister of Labour, Mujibal Haque Chunnu, Fuchtel said: "Fair and safe working conditions are a prerequisite for social peace. It is the task of trade unions to draw attention to untenable working conditions and to demand that these be redressed – not only in Germany but also in Bangladesh."

Bangladesh’s Labour Minister was on a visit to Germany only weeks after a wave of strikes led to the temporary closure of dozens of textile factories and the dismissal and arrest of hundreds of workers in Bangladesh. The workers were demanding better working conditions and decent, living wages. As a rule, the legal minimum wage in Bangladesh is only adjusted every three years. Fuchtel commented: "This is the fourth time that we have invited members of works councils, employers' representatives and government officials from Bangladesh to meet here in Germany. The issues they discussed included workplace safety and collective bargaining. We organised this meeting to help strengthen workers' rights in Bangladesh."

The aim behind inviting the delegation from Bangladesh to come on a two-week visit to Germany is to encourage the parties involved to engage in a more constructive social dialogue, and to give them a glimpse of the world of employment here in Germany. To this end, workers from Bangladesh were taken to a German factory so that they could observe their German counterparts at work and could share their work experiences with them.

The German Development Ministry is advocating better working conditions in the textiles sector. In late 2014 – in response to an initiative launched by the Ministry following a fire in the Rana Plaza textiles factory which killed over a thousand workers – German textiles manufacturers, trade unions, trade associations and non-governmental organisations got together to found a partnership for Sustainable Textiles. The Textiles Partnership now has 180 members, who represent around fifty per cent of Germany's clothing and textile retailers.

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