Bangladesh: USAID’s Workers’ Empowerment Program: Improving Representation in the Workplace
The Solidarity Center works with independent trade unions in Bangladesh to increase workers’ access to effective and representative organizations that protect their rights—such as fair wages, safe working conditions and workplaces free of violence. Following factory collapses and fires in recent years, the Solidarity Center has supported factory-based organizing in the ready-made garment (RMG) industry, including the formation and registration of nearly 300 new unions. As part of USAID’s Workers’ Empowerment Program (WEP), the Solidarity Center builds upon these achievements, empowering workers—the majority of them women—with the skills and organizations they need to act collectively in their workplaces and communities to protect their rights, promote their interests and improve labor conditions.
The Solidarity Center supports the formation of representative trade unions at factories in Bangladesh that reflect the needs of workers, particularly with regard to vulnerable populations—including women workers, young and old workers, workers with disabilities and ethnic minorities. The Solidarity Center trains union leaders and activists on best practices for including these workers in leadership structures and for ensuring that their needs are understood and represented. As unions continue to develop, the Solidarity Center provides mentoring and technical support as they negotiate collective bargaining agreements that address the particular needs of their members.
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