Academy of Work (AoW) 2018

Academy of Work (AoW) is a 3-month certified training programme for trade unionists in Bangladesh.

Photo: Unionist, Mussamat Jhakia Begum, Jatiya Sramik League (left) and unionist, Khadiza Akther, the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (right). Photo by Charlotte Clemensen

Academy of Work (AoW) is a 3-month certified training programme for trade unionists in Bangladesh. FES Bangladesh is proud of being part of this initiative together with Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University.

Throughout the course, participants are empowered to connect to the world beyond the Bangladeshi labour sphere and to continue on their leadership path by representing the goals of decent work along the global supply chain, more effectively. 

On 29 November, 16 fellows graduated from the training programme. At the ceremony two graduating fellows, among other speakers, held their speeches. Fellow, Jakir Hossain Mollah uttered why he thinks this course has enhanced his work as a unionist: “AoW has changed our thinking and attitude forever. If we are divided, we will fall - it is all about unity”. Nazrul Islam, BILS expressed his gratitude to all the fellows and encouraged them to take responsibility and share their valuable knowledge outside the classroom.

In the end of the ceremony a handover of certificates was done by H.E. Peter Fahrenholtz, German Ambassador, followed by an enjoyable celebration. Again, a big congratulations to all the 16 union leaders.

During December 2018, FES shared 16 stories on Facebook told by the fellows who have graduated from AoW 2018. Again, a big thanks to all the participants for sharing their experiences with us. One participant shared her story:

"My experiences from the Academy of Work will definitely help the workers in the RMG sector in Bangladesh”. This quote comes from Khadiza Akther (photo: right), a participant of this years’ Academy of Work.

Khadiza worked in a ready-made garment factory from an age of 11. After 8 years of hard factory work, she involved herself in union work. Unfortunately, this involvement made her jobless. The factory manager did not agree with Khadiza about the importance of the voice of the workers. Khadiza is still a very active unionist and is the vice president for the Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, for which she has worked for 11 years. She talks about her experiences from this years’ Academy of Work:

“Learning about the global supply chain and the global linkages was very important for me given the context of Bangladesh. This knowledge will help me in my everyday union work and I want to share my knowledge with the workers from the RMG sector who are connected to this global supply chain. I will share my knowledge about changes and challenges with automatization. It is not only national actors we have to blame when challenges occur, because we are part of a global system. I also want to share my knowledge on different meetings with stakeholders, brands and buyers in the RMG sector. When issues are discussed at these meetings, I now feel empowered to make better comments and involve myself in discussions.”

“The experiences from this course will have a wide and important impact on my work. I understand that time changes and we have to adopt to this in our everyday work. We need to change our strategies in the unions in Bangladesh because the union movements in earlier days are different from now. Both labour laws and production structures have changed over time and it is important that unions understand these changes and we have to rethink what we are doing - it is important to not only look into labour rights but also look at productivity."

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Bangladesh Office

Dhaka, Bangladesh

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