Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has urged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to join Bangladesh in its forward-looking efforts without dragging them into the unfortunate past that otherwise only helps serve some vested national and international interests and agenda.
"Please don't use labour weaknesses, if there be any, as a tool to achieve political gains, rather try to help and assist to overcome those weaknesses with generous support and financing," he said.
The foreign minister was speaking at a national seminar on "Fundamental principles and rights at work: Bangladesh's 50-years journey with the ILO" held at the Foreign Service Academy.
Momen said he publicly made these observations in the spirit of Bangladesh's "constructive engagement" with ILO and in their mutual interest.
He reiterated that the government of Bangladesh remains willing to facilitate appropriate course-corrections in the labour and employment sectors in response to its socio-economic context at any given time.
"We would, however, expect our relevant international partners including ILO to acknowledge the value of local level knowledge and insights without taking a one-sided prescriptive approach that one model fits all," Momen said.
He said the government remains determined to navigate the current cost-of-living crisis in the wake of the war in Ukraine by continuing its efforts to create decent jobs for the young workforce and by expanding the reach of social safety nets to help poor households offset the inflationary pressures.
"It is critical that the international financial institutions provide the required fiscal space to developing countries like ours by taking certain proven policy measures in the face of a likely global recession," he said.
Momen recalled ILO's resurgence and relevance in the international policy discourse during the global financial crisis of 2008-09. "We would wish to see ILO living up to its expected role as we countenance yet another multiple crisis period."
Speaking at the seminar, ILO's Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa said ILO will continue to support the government with the application of ratified conventions.
ILO has supported a systematic approach to skills governance and anticipates further modernisation and ILO is committed to continue this partnership, she said, adding that "Together with the government and social partners we will continue to strive to reach common goals."
The ILO senior official said the overarching goal is to see Bangladesh achieve an economic and social recovery from the crisis that is fully inclusive, systematic and resilient.
She laid emphasis on strengthening policies that prioritise the creation of decent works for all and address the inequalities.
Reaching this goal will mean making progress through a comprehensive agenda and promote quality employment, economic development, workers protection, universal protection and social dialogue, Asada-Miyakawa said.
She highly appreciated Bangladesh's commitment in advancing the decent work for all.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and other stakeholders spoke at the seminar.