After a 7-year struggle in Bangladesh, Grameenphone Employees Union wins recognition


After a 7-year struggle in Bangladesh, Grameenphone Employees Union wins recognition

After a seven-year struggle for union recognition, the Grameenphone Employees Union (GPEU) finally received its union registration from the Bangladeshi labour authorities on March 7.

“GPEU has been a brave and persistent advocate for the Grameenphone workers, and workers have persevered with determination and optimism in the face of significant challenges,” said Christy Hoffman, UNI Global Union’s General Secretary. “This victory should bring hope and inspiration to workers across the sector and the globe who are struggling for better conditions on the job.”

From its inception in 2012, the union faced opposition from the company, the employers’ association, and the government as part of a concerted effort to prevent unions from developing and expanding in the country’s fast-growing ICT sector.

The resistance to the GPEU was vicious: 162 union members were terminated, seven union leaders fired; a rival union was formed to promote division and discord among the workforce; there were legal challenges to the union’s registration, and an appeal from the Labour Ministry to block the registration of the union.

The GPEU, however, pressed on and it now represents a majority of employees and looks forward to the next steps of establishing workplace delegates and collective bargaining.

UNI Global Union once had a global agreement with Grameenphone’s Norwegian parent company, Telenor Group and Telenor has recently played an important role in ensuring that the rights of Grameenphone workers are respected.

“This is an important foothold in the Bangladeshi ICT sector,” said UNI ICTS Head Teresa Casertano. “We anticipate a positive collaboration between the company and the GPEU to strengthen the union’s role in the workplace as well as an on-going dialogue that will build a relationship of trust and good faith collective bargaining.”

GPEU was the recipient of the UNI’s Freedom from Fear Award in 2013 and the country’s ICTS unions won it in 2016. Mia Masud, GPEU general secretary was interviewed here at that time.  


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