Abu Taher Bappa

Published:
2020-03-21 11:12:43 BdST

Govt moves to scrap Agri Labour Ordinance


FT ONLINE 

The government has finally decided to repeal the Agricultural Labour (Minimum Wages) Ordinance-1984, considering that such an order is no longer necessary in the country, officials said.

The decision was made at a tripartite meeting of the labour and employment ministry recently, they added.

The documents regarding the decision will now be sent to the legislative and parliamentary affairs division for necessary action, according to a meeting source.

Besides, the definition of informal labour will be included in the Labour Act-2006 (amendment-2018) during the next amendment of the act, the source added.

Earlier, industries and agriculture ministries have also sought to scrap the Agricultural Labour Ordinance-1984.

The ministries think this ordinance is also not workable in the country now, officials said.

However, the local government division does not agree with the views of the ministries.

As Bangladesh is mainly an agro-based country and most of the country's labourers are engaged in agricultural activities, the ordinance should not be abolished, it argued.

The labour and employment ministry had earlier sought opinions of the two other ministries and the local government division about the relevance of the ordinance in the present context.

In response, both the ministries gave their opinion in favour of revoking the ordinance.

On the other hand, the local government division wants it to be in place.

The ordinance was issued during the military regime in February 1984.

The labour ministry had sent a letter to the legislative and parliamentary affairs division, seeking its opinion about whether the government should continue with the ordinance.

The legislative and parliamentary affairs division gave its opinion that the ministry concerned should take necessary decision accordingly.

Contacted, additional labour secretary Dr. Md Rezaul Haque said, "At the tripartite meeting, we have agreed to abolish the Agricultural Labour Ordinance. Now, we have to follow some procedures to eliminate the order."

He also noted that the existing Bangladesh Labour Act has clearly defined the agriculture labour.

So, the two ministries have agreed on the repeal of the ordinance, he added.

A high official of the labour ministry said the ordinance is not presently followed by the authorities or groups concerned.

"It appears that the agriculture labourers don't have any idea about the ordinance in question," he added.

A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that an employer can legally pay his or her worker.

Experts suggested that the ordinance on minimum wages for agriculture labourers should be amended, as they account for about 39 percent of the total labour force.

They are the heart of the country's agriculture sector, the experts added.

The analysts believe that a separate ordinance should be introduced in the country.

Besides, agriculture workers now demand higher wages when farmers or others want to hire them.

For this, they said, the government should take steps to make the ordinance time-befitting.

The ordinance has some sections such as minimum wages for agriculture labour, constitution of a council of minimum wages and prices for the agriculture labour, compensation and recovery procedure.

According to article 3 (1) of the ordinance, the minimum wage for an agriculture labour per day shall be 3.27 kilograms of rice or similar amount of money.

As per section 4, the government may review the rate from time to time on the recommendation from the council of minimum wages and prices.

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