Planning Minister MA Mannan yesterday said Bangladesh has always given top priority to equal rights of its citizens.
Mannan was speaking at a national dialogue session titled “UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights”, organised by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and supported by UNDP, at a city hotel.
The dialogue brought together thinkers, NGO workers and human rights activists from home and abroad to discuss the current situation of human rights preservation in different industries across the globe.
"As Bangladesh is rapidly advancing towards industrialisation, the number of workers is also growing. We are all for preserving their rights regarding workplace," the minister said.
"We will take steps acknowledging the reality of our country and we are still on track in preserving rights of the labourers," he added.
NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque complemented government actions to maintain rights of the working class.
He also emphasised following the UN guiding principles (UNGP) in cases that are still hazardous for workers in several industries, especially the readymade garments sector.
"We want the state to take the lead in this regard. We will continue to support the government in all situations," he added.
Livio Sarandrea, team leader of Business and Human Rights in Asia, Asia Pacific Regional hub of UNDP, gave insights about UNGP.
"Violating people's rights for profit leaves a negative impact," he said.
He also lauded government's efforts, saying Bangladesh is an example of good publicity of industries despite the aftermath of Rana Plaza tragedy.
Livio also mentioned that in order to implement the UNGP in workplaces across the country, a cohesive plan is necessary in collaboration with all stakeholders.
Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce Tapon Kanti Ghosh said rapid industrialisation has taken off recently in the country.
"After the Rana Plaza collapse, the issues and violation of labour rights have become more visible," he added.
Sayeed Ahmed, additional secretary to the Ministry of Labour, concurred. He said the government has taken necessary steps, including legal and administrative reform, after Rana Plaza incident.
“United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights” is a set of 31 principles to implement UN framework “Protect, Respect and Remedy”, which connect the issue of human rights with transnational corporations and other business enterprises.