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Nagorik Shangathan: Agonies of workers multiplied during Covid

  • Published at 12:09 am August 11th, 2021
Day labourers
Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Speakers urge government to take more steps for workers’ welfare

The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the people's lives, especially the workers who have long been deprived of their rights and dignity, speakers say at a webinar.

A platform of rights activists, researchers and academicians, Nagorik Shangathan, organized the webinar titled, “Rights and Respect of Workers During Covid-19” on Tuesday where speakers shed light on the various difficulties the workers are facing during the pandemic and stressed the need for unity among them.

They demanded that the government take effective steps to improve the living standard of the workers, distribute aid among them, and ensure their vaccination and job security.

The speakers highlighted that the RMG workers were facing difficulties to join work due to the lockdown restrictions and deprived of adequate compensation, while many others in the informal sectors lost their job.

Bangladesh Tea Workers Union General Secretary Rambhajan Koiri said that even though the tea gardens operated during the lockdown restriction, many owners were reluctant to pay for Covid tests and risk allowances.

Also Read - 1.08m informal workers lose jobs amid Covid-19 pandemic

Researcher Philip Gain said the tea garden workers were at high risk as they live in cluttered houses. “There have been several instances that owners didn't pay for a worker's treatment.”

Shamajik Sramik Front central committee President Razekuzzaman Ratan said that those working in the tourism sector did not even have a proper wage board, let alone allocation of funds for skill development.

Bangladesh Trade Union Association Joint Secretary Taslima Akhter said that the RMG workers had to undergo sufferings throughout the pandemic despite being the main drivers of the country’s GDP.

She said that the government and the owners were not doing much to ensure better life for the workers, rather their right to protest had been curbed.

Professor Anu Muhammad deplored the absence of initiatives by the government in ensuring job security and healthcare services for the workers.

Researcher and writer Pricilla Raj said: “The fire and subsequent death of the workers at Hashem Food Ltd factory is a clear indication of how reluctant we are about workers’ rights.”

She emphasized on ensuring an atmosphere of accountability to improve the situation.