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August 29, 2023

Bangladesh: Recruitment Procedure in Construction Sector: An Unravelling Issue in Bangladesh

Israt Jahan

The construction industry has significantly improved Bangladesh's economy, contributing greatly to its GDP. This growth is mainly due to the large workforce employed in this sector, which exceeds 60 million people, with 78% of them working in the establishment sector.  Construction workers in Bangladesh are among the most neglected laborers; many are informal workers who lack access to education and better job opportunities. Most construction sites do not follow proper recruitment processes as well as working processes, and labor laws are not adequately enforced. Despite the implementation of numerous regulations and codes, including ILO conventions, the Bangladesh Labor Act 2006, the Bangladesh Labor Rule 2015, and the Bangladesh National Building Code 2020, construction workers in Bangladesh frequently experience the denial of their rights as a result of the lack of proper recruitment process, the lack of contracts, appointment letters and identity cards.

In Bangladesh, it has been seen almost in every construction sector the absence of a standard open and transparent recruitment procedure. The recruitment procedure in Bangladesh's construction sector frequently involves nepotism and favoritism due to informal networks and personal relationships. This strategy undercuts merit-based hiring and limits possibilities for capable candidates without powerful allies. There have been conducted two surveys among construction workers in Chattogram and Khulna, Bangladesh. Surveys found that informal contracts and frequent exploitation of construction workers are problems in Bangladesh. These contracts all inadequately guarantee their work security, access to benefits like health insurance and social security, and legal protection.

The vulnerability of workers is increased by the absence of formal employment agreements, which also makes it challenging for them to enforce their rights. Also, Significant gender discrepancies in the recruitment procedure in the construction sector have been conducted. Due to cultural norms, biases and a lack of employment possibilities, female employees face significant difficulties in accessing employment opportunities. Additionally, reports of discrimination and harassment against women throughout the recruitment process have exacerbated the existing gender gaps in the sector. According to the survey, a large number of Bangladeshi construction workers are unaware of their legal rights and the rules governing hiring practices. Due to their ignorance, they are more vulnerable to being exploited and find it difficult to demand fair treatment and decent working conditions. Moreover, the study finds that the recruitment procedure places insufficient emphasis on safety and security. It draws attention to situations in which workers are hired without having their abilities, credentials, or adherence to safety norms properly verified. Inadequately trained or inexperienced workers may be hired for risky construction tasks, which poses serious dangers to worker safety and wellbeing.

For solving the unbearable problem it is essential to establish a consistent, open and transparent recruitment procedure that offers equal chances, promotes transparency to lessen biased selection, involves regulatory agencies and enforcement mechanisms in monitoring hiring practices, documenting employees' rights in appointment letters, issuing identity cards and enhancing organizational capability and resources for better adherence to hiring standards and addressing violations are all examples of ways to improve hiring practices. Additionally, the overall recruitment process can be greatly enhanced by raising awareness and offering training programs about ethical hiring procedures and workers' rights for both employers and workers. Furthermore, it is crucial to educate workers about their rights and entitlements. Both prospective and current workers in construction should have simple access to information about pay, working conditions and legal rights. To address these concerns, a multifaceted strategy involving important parties, such as the government, employers, workers’ organizations and civil society. A strong regulatory structure that upholds ethical hiring procedures, defends workers’ rights and encourages respectable work in the construction sector must be put in place. Also, need to ratify all those mentioned ILO conventions to have a proper recruitment process. By prioritizing these reforms, Bangladesh can create a more diverse, moral and sustainable construction industry that upholds all workers' rights and dignity.

    Israt Jahan

    Fellow (Labor Rights), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust Dhaka, Bangladesh

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