By Jakir Hossain, Mostafiz Ahmed and Jafrul Hasan Sharif (February 2018)
Bangladesh's integration into the global supply chains is mainly linked to its liberalised trade. Free trade regimes such as the EU GSP have made significant contributions to the economic upgrading of the country, but have failed to upgrade its social development. Although freedom of association, freedom from forced and child labour and employment free of discrimination, are defined as the Core Labour standards (CLS), these ILO core conventions are rarely complied by all actors along the global supply chain. Furthermore, the aftermath of the Rana Plaza events tragedy revealed an urgent need for the inclusion of rights such as decent working hours, living wages and health and safety, which are regarded as the elements of CLS+. The study titled "Linking Trade and Decent Work in Global Supply Chains in Bangladesh" highlights power imbalances in the industrial and labour relations along the global supply chain and offers recommendations for all actors along the chain to alter the conditions prevailing at the bottom of the value chain. The study is a part of the regional project CLS+, which was launched by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Asia in 2016.
What Can be Learned from the German Experience? By Hansjörg Herr and Zeynep M. Nettekoven (November 2017)
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role for development. Germany is a role model for SMEs. This is due to several important factors: Germany’s local banking system, which is not profit oriented; the dual vocational system; the high social capital of strong employers’ associations and trade unions; government support of SME clusters and a big, government-owned development bank. SMEs in developing countries typically suffer from limited access to long-term and affordable finance, insufficient institutions for developing a skilled class of entrepreneurs and workers, a low income, and poor policies to support economic and social upgrading of SMEs. The study illustrates that economic upgrading in developing countries is necessary, but will not be successful without social upgrading. Germany – with its high social capital within the framework of a social market economy, its financial and education system, and its government support for SMEs – can stimulate debates about SMEs in developing countries.
The Academy of Work (AoW) is the first initiative in Bangladesh that enables emerging leaders from the trade union movement to participate in an intensive cross-sector 3-month residential training programme. In an attempt to create an all-inclusive representation of workers’ interests with an effective social dialogue- the partner organisations of AoW- Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Bangladesh in collaboration with Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) of the BRAC University, took into consideration the expertise of representatives of the employers, government and civil society members to develop the programme. The Yearbook 2017 illustrates the highlights of our first cohort of sixteen enthusiastic fellows and our dedicated team of trainers and curriculum developers. Our journey has been exciting as we relentlessly strived to connect academic education and the realities of globalization, to the labour movement in Bangladesh, to promote a broader understanding of living in a globalised world.
FES Bangladesh, Country Study / Sohela Nazneen
Since independence, Bangladesh has made significant gains in empowering women. It has formulated and implemented policies and programmes that improve the condition of women and girls. Maternal mortality and fertility rates have gone down, making Bangladesh attain gender parity in enrolment. Women’s movement played a critical role in bringing about these changes. However, the women’s movement faces many different challenges given the rapidly changing economic and political contexts at the national and global levels. For socially just and gender equal responses to these challenges, solidarity and coalitions among the various school of thoughts in Bangladesh are essential. The study is an attempt to trace the history of women’s movements in Bangladesh and to discuss its achievements and internal and external challenges for a sustainable movement. The author weaves in broader historical changes and discusses the nature of the current political context.
The changing nature of international trade, dominated by global value chains, has led to downward pressure on working conditions. Fundamental rights at work, such as the right to organise and bargain collectively, are not upheld. Child labour exists in many supply chains, and minimum wages, when paid, are not sufficient to ensure decent living standards. Forced overtime and lack of safety measures are also common. This publication wishes to draw attention to the imbalances in international trade and the asymmetric power relationship in global value chains, and to initiate a discussion on how to tackle these challenges. It is one of the outputs of the regional project Core Labour Standards Plus (CLS+), which was launched by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Asia in 2016.
FES Bangladesh / Mustafizur Rahman and Estiaque Bari
Escaping the Middle-income Trap: Perspectives from Bangladesh
Development experiences of a number of countries bear out that these countries are not being able to come out of the middle-income status after having graduated from the low income group. They have fallen into what is often termed as the middle-income trap. Many factors underpin such an outcome. The study analyzes on how Bangladesh may be able to avoid such a trap, how best she can take advantage of her strengths and how she could accelerate her pace of development to graduate from the middle-income status. The study has articulated a need for new coalitions of drivers, which have high stakes in bringing transformative changes in Bangladesh, to emerge.
Implementation Challenges in Developing Countries by Debapriya Bhattacharya, Towfiqul Islam Khan, Umme Shefa Rezbana, and Lamya Mostaque (July 2016)
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reflect an ambitious development objective with a transformative vision. The new development agenda makes for a holistic developmental framework. Experts are forecasting that the new agenda could achieve more than its predecessor, the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The SDGs bring enormous opportunities, but also immense challenges for developing countries around the world. This study identifies five key challenges of implementing the SDGs in developing countries: integrating the SDGs into national, sub-national and local-level development plans; establishing an institutional architecture that can deliver the development agenda; mobilising adequate financial and other resources; realising a “data revolution” with regard to monitoring and evaluation; and developing partnerships by creating platforms for multi-stakeholder participation.
Social Europe Report 2015 / Published in cooperation with FES Bangladesh
The Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in April 2013 made global news. The accident also raised major concerns about the working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry and questions about western companies’ lack of control and supervision of their supply chains. Beyond the news of April 2013 and the one-year anniversary, it is time to have a close look at what has happened since. This project was not designed to point fingers at people or specific companies. An online publication project by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Dhaka Office and Social Europe looks at the situation after Rana Plaza bringing together different experts on the subject.
Bangladesh study of Prof. Mustafiz Rahman
The Economy of Tomorrow Project aims at constructing a new development path and enable the formation of “discoursive coalitions” in order to build momentum and power for its implementation. The regional dialogue between renowned academic thinkers from Asia and Europe is based on the assumption that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all blueprint in order to overcome the manifold crises both Asian and European societies are facing today. In all participating countries, renowned economists look at the challenges on the way to the economy of tomorrow.
Lessons from the Least Developed Countries for a Development Agenda Post-2015
FES published “Lagging Behind: Lessons from the Least Developed Countries for a Development Agenda Post-2015,” based on the CPD study titled “Attaining the MDGs: How Successful are the LDCs?” The study is authored by CPD Distinguished Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, with co-authors Research Fellow Mr Towfiqul Islam Khan, Research Associate Ms Umme Salma and Programme Associate Mr Gazi Joki Uddin. Based on the study FES Bangladesh earlier co-organised a dialogue to discuss the delivery of the MDGs in least developed countries and reflect on Post-2015 issues on 21 September 2013.