What the papers say

Skills for Export

A weekly round up of articles about employment, the labour market, skills training and workforce development. Here is the news for the week ending 24th September 2015.

This week in the Bangladesh English Press…

…The Asian Development Bank is upbeat about Bangladesh’s economic growth. A delegation from the Office of the Unite States Trade Representative visits Dhaka and Chittagong. And the Government’s role in the development and export of skilled people is discussed.

The week ended on a positive note with the Asian Development Bank revising upward its estimate for growth. The Bank projects that Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product will grow at 6.7 per cent this year compared to an earlier figure of 6.4 per cent. But this growth is contingent on a number of issues reports The Financial Express.

Economic growth means that jobs will be created. But reports this week suggest that those in employment sometimes struggle for fair pay.

Following the cabinet’s approval of a new public sector pay-scale, teachers at public universities are demanding their own pay structure. The Daily Star discusses the teachers’ demands.

Demanding payment of wages for the last nine weeks, some of the 2,000 employees of a state-owned jute mill demonstrated by blocking the road between Chittagong and Hathazari, reports the Daily Star.

The next day The Daily Star also reported that workers of a private spinning mill blocked the Dhaka Mymensingh highway  following disagreements with management over holiday work schedules and wages.

Bangladesh Ready for Re-entry to Trade Agreement?

Both The Financial Express and The Daily Star reported on the delegation from the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Bangladesh last week. The delegation visited several factories in Dhaka and Chittagong and will prepare a report ahead of the Sustainability Compact meeting scheduled for November.

Initiated in 2013, the Sustainability Compact is an agreement between the Government of Bangladesh, the European Union, and the International Labour Organization. The three parties will work together to improve factory safety and labour rights in the apparel sector.

The Government and many business owners are pushing for Bangladesh’s re-entry to a favourable trade agreement with the United States. This agreement is known as the General System of Preferences (GSP). In previous weeks we have tried to get to the bottom of this issue. The agreement does not cover the apparel sector. But Bangladesh feels that suspension will undermine global business confidence in the country.

The Independent confidently announced that Bangladesh fulfils GSP conditions. But towards the end of the week The Daily Star indicated – in a longer editorial – that the delegation was still not satisfied with the progress that Bangladesh has made. And on a less positive note, The Independent reported that freedom of association is a continuing concern.  We will have to wait until the official report is released.

Government Leads on Skill Development and Export

The Financial Express examined Bangladesh’s potential for exporting labour. It made the case for a single government ministry responsible for workforce development. The article praised the Government for launching the Skills for Employment Investment Programme with support from the Asian Development Bank.

Problems with the new arrangements for the export of Bangladesh labour to Malaysia are discussed in The Financial Express. The paper notes the challenges of similar Government managed procedures in the past. But concludes that since the Malaysian Government has little confidence in private agencies, the Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower Export and Training must fulfil its role.

… and in other news …

Four weeks ago we carried The Independent’s report on the plight of the Benares saree weavers. These traditional craftspeople have suffered a loss of trade as fashions have changed over the years. This week The Daily Star showcases the work of the saree makers through an attractive full page colour article. This handicraft industry employees approximately 250,000 people many in the Mirpur area of Dhaka.