We strive to create harmonious industrial relations through social dialogue between workers and management. We train workers on productive negotiation and how to channel their demands in a fruitful way. At the same time, we train factory management on their duties and obligations towards workers. To date, we have provided training to around 2,000 factory management members on workers’ rights under national and international legal frameworks.
This collaborative approach between workers and management to create a better negotiating environment has been very fruitful. Between 2016 and 17, there were ten collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) signed in the RMG sector in Bangladesh and Awaj provided support in developing six of them. These six CBAs were negotiated by women labour leaders and together they cover over 16,000 workers. Awaj Foundation’s sister trade union federation SGSF (Sommolito Garments Sramik Federation) played a crucial role in providing legal and technical support to factory unions in the negotiation and drafting of these agreements.
With support from Awaj, women union leaders were able to negotiate six CBAs between 2016-17, covering over 16,000 workers.
The CBAs negotiated with the help of Awaj are exceptional not only because they were negotiated by women leaders but they also contain some ground-breaking provisions. For example, at one factory in Dhaka, union leader Bilkis was able to negotiate a CBA that guarantees that the employer would pay for the cost of ultrasound check-up for pregnant workers. It was also agreed that pregnant workers would be given relief from physically demanding duties in the later months of their pregnancy. At another factory, union President Morjina was able to negotiate for an eight percent annual increment in wages when by law factory owners are only obligated to provide five percent. She was also able to double the number of festival holidays granted to workers (22 as opposed to the legally mandated 11).
Our experience shows that factories with CBAs are more productive in terms of the volume of output, have greater employee satisfaction and are less prone to unrest and disruptions in shipment.