Bangladesh: On with the next generation of trade unionists

In 2017, Bangladesh saw the opening of the first Academy of Work, a three-month long programme for trade unionists in the country. Today, they share their experiences!

Looking back at 2017, Bangladesh saw the opening of the first Academy of Work (AoW), a cross-sectoral, residential training programme for trade unionists in the country. To make this happen, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) joined hands with the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) and the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), which is housed under the country’s leading BRAC University.

A testimony of the remarkable success of the program scheduled to continue in 2018, sixteen among the participants share the most memorable experiences they have gained throughout the programme.

Abdul Halim, Jatiyo Sramik League

"Not only have I been introduced to various academic concepts and theories, relevant to take the trade union movement forward, such as global supply chain, but I have learned to see past my own sector and I have developed an intention to work with other sectors, too."

A.B. Siddik Mintu, Bangladesh Nirman Sramik Union League

"Apart from the academic knowledge gained during the training programme, I have gained the experience of working with trade union activists from various sectors and have created a powerful network, which I am sure play a major role to take the Trade union movement forward."

AKM Rafiqul Islam, Bangladesh Rural Development Board Karmachari Union, Jatiyo Sramik League

"Speaking for myself, the most important thing I am taking back from the Academy is a whole set of skills (i.e. negotiation, collective bargaining, communication etc.). Although I had prior experience and working knowledge of these skills, the academic foundation was missing."

Fazlul Kabir Mintu, Bangladesh Trade Union Center, Chittagong

"I have gained a more in-depth knowledge on national and international laws. I have also learned how effective social dialogue can be effective in ensuring the rights."

Jesmin Juy, Garments Workers Unity Forum

"After spending 4 months at the Academy of Work, I now have a clearer picture on the mechanism of the global supply chain, which helps me to see how workers in involved in Backward Linkage activities are involved."

Kanak Barman, Jatiyo Sramik Jote

"The Academy of Work training programme has strengthened my life’s mission as a trade union activist. I strongly believe that a positive change is possible with the help of an effective social dialogue."


Kormi Barua, Chittagong X-Ray Pathology Health Clinic Union, BTUC

"The most important thing that I am taking back from the academy is the belief that all problems can be tackled with intelligence, maturity and unity. I am happy to carry with me the academic knowledge gained during the training programme, which along with my work experience has made me more confident than before."

Maksuda Khatun, Postal & Dakkarmochari Union

"I have gained a lot of confidence and a sense of optimism which makes me believe that a combination of knowledge and unity can solve all our problems and take the trade union movement forward."

Md. Abul Kalam, Bangladesh Labour Federation

"I always believed that Trade Unions have an undeniable role to play to establish a society based on unity and social justice. My months spent at the Academy of Work has only made this belief grow much stronger than before."

Md. Nahidul Hasan Nayan, Sammilito Garments Workers’ Federation

"Not only have I learned about the usefulness of international instruments, i.e. OECD guidelines and the role of trade unions to employ the instruments in their favour but I have also bettered my communication skills."

Md. Rezaul Karim, United Federation of Garment Workers

"The Academy of Work training programme has provided me with the necessary theoretical knowledge and skills which has solidified my foundation and strengthened my role as an instructor."

Md. Yeamin Miah, Bangladesh Jatiyo Sramik Federation

"Many the academic theories and concepts were completely alien for me, such as the concept of Global Supply Chain and Bangladesh’s position in that chain. I would say that learning about such concepts a valuable experience that I have gained from the Academy of Work."

Mohammad Khorshed Alam, Bangladesh Jatiyotabadi Sramik Dal

"Although, I had extensive experience as a trade unionist before joining the Academy of Work, the programme has given me a solid insight into the international context which has broadened my vision on the global trade union movement."

Morium Akhter, Bangladesh Textile and Garment Workers’ League

"Apart from the academic knowledge gained at the Academy of Work which has made my foundation stronger as a trade union activist, I have also formed a wider network outside my own RMG sector."

Shahnaz Parven, Shadhin Bangla Garment Workers’ Federation

"Not only have I gained a more in-depth knowledge on the dynamics of leadership skills but I have also formed strong bonds with the AoW 2017 Alumni who belong to various sectors."

Tahmina Rahman, Bangladesh Apparel Workers’ Federation

"The experience at the Academy has taught me to go beyond my sector and see the bigger picture. I have learned that there is nothing unattainable with the power of unity (over all the sectors) and social dialogue."

For more information on the Academy of Work and the work by FES in Bangladesh contact the FES Bangladesh Office.

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