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Transport workers’ rights still ignored

  • Published at 08:22 pm April 30th, 2016
Transport workers’ rights still ignored
“When I am young, you may see that I have a sizable income. But when I will die, you will see that money is being collected from my fellow drivers to arrange my namaz-e-janaza and burial. This is what happens to us,” said Abdur Razzak, a truck driver in the capital’s Mohammadpur. “Also, if we face an accident, it is better for us to die on the scene rather than being injured because we will not have enough money to pay for medical expenses. This makes the life of a transport worker a living hell.” Most of the transport workers this correspondent talked to echoed the view of Razzak, and described how dissatisfied they were with their daily life because they have no rights. They said they were always in a hurry to earn more money instead of focusing on driving safely on the road. Experts said the tendency of drivers to drive recklessly in order to make more money is causing more accidents, adding that the number of accidents would have been very low if drivers could be paid more. Tajul Islam Tejel, publication secretary of Bangladesh Inter-district Truck Driver Union, told the Dhaka Tribune truck drivers and workers neither have good income nor adequate employment opportunities. “They have to work for at least 12 to 13 hours a day but still they do not have job security.” Tejel said transport workers are deprived of facilities usually enjoyed by employees working in offices or corporations. “Although driving is a risky job, they are not paid any money to pay for treatment after an accident. Besides, vehicle owners sometimes demand money from us in compensation in case of accidents although we were not at fault.” Azizur Rahman, a taxi driver, said vehicle owners do not consider even if any family member of workers falls ill. “They deduct money from our salary, and also demand that we work on a holiday if we have to take a day off for illness of family members. Otherwise, there is a possibility to lose our job. “Besides, I have been receiving the same salary for the last eight years. There is no increment. We have no rights,” added Azizur, who works for a car rental company. Government officials said they were enacting a law to cover the rights of transport workers but Majnu Mollah, joint convener of Malik-Sramik Oikya Parishad, told the Dhaka Tribune it was not certain when the act would be enacted. Secretary of the Road Transport and Highways Division MAN Siddique told the Dhaka Tribune the Road Transport Act 2016 would address all the issues faced by transport workers. “Once the act is passed, the workers will come under legal protection. Also, clauses on non-motorised vehicles will also be included in the act,” he said. Although the process for enacting the act began back in 2011, enactment has not finished yet, and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) said it was unlikely to be finished this year. BRTA Secretary Md Shawkat Ali said they had held a workshop with World Health Organisation and several other organisations in which several recommendations were made on road safety, driving licence and remuneration of transport workers. “We analysed the recommendations and sent those to the ministry. Those will be re-analysed there and then the act needs to get the approval from the inter-ministerial committee. After that, it will be enacted. “I do not think the act can be enacted this year,” he added.
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