Number of deaths and incidents of violence on workers were higher in 2019 than in the previous year
Both the number of deaths and the incidents of violence on workers at the workplace were higher in 2019 than in the previous year, the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) said on Monday.
The number of workers killed in workplace accidents rose by more than 15 percent, while incidents of torture on workers rose by 68 percent, according to a comparison of the BILS reports of 2018 and 2019 on workplace safety.
The report 'Decent Work and Workplace Safety Scenario in 2019' was published on Monday in Dhaka. The report prioritised the ready-made garment sector of the country.
"The country is progressing fast, but we keep failing to value human life. Our workers are being tortured at home, abroad and even outside their workplaces," Sukkur Mahamud, vice chairman of the Institute, said.
The report said the number of protests and violent activities in industrial areas had leaped by around 27 percent in one year, prompting the increase of torture on labourers.
The Institute of Labour Studies, in its report, said that trimming of expenses and failure to upgrade industrial infrastructure are responsible for layoffs in the industrial sector.
The report noted, "Unskilled women are the worst victims of technological upgrade. There were 17.04 lakh female workers in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector in 2013, but this figure dropped to 15.31 lakh in 2018."
As many as 95 percent of workers are forced to work more than the designated working hours. Although they were paid their wages before the Eids, nearly 46 percent factories did not pay the festival bonuses, said the report.
The report highlighted insecurity issues of female workers on the way to work. According to the research report, 77 percent of female workers were harassed on the public transportation system, and 43 percent of them were bullied.
RMG: Miserable life even after completing exhausting workday
Most RMG workers lead a miserable life even after completing a hard day of work. Around 87 workers have to borrow money, while 56 percent buy essentials on credit.
As many as 91 percent of workers cannot afford sufficient food for themselves and their families, while 72 percent are deprived of proper medical treatment.
In the apparel sector, 90 percent of female workers experience mental torture while 39 percent women workers feel insecure.
As many as 125 ready-made garment workers died in violence in the last one year. Of them, 39 were males and 86 females.
Most of the incidents of violence took place outside of the factories.
Still 97 percent workers out of trade union
The number of trade unions rose from 50 to 753 in the last six years in the RMG sector. Even then, 97 percent of the workers do not get the benefits of having a union.
A lifetime member of the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, Md Touhidur Rahman, termed setting up trade unions in the sector as "totally elusive".
"There cannot be more than 250 effective trade unions in the RMG sector. In most cases, owners harass the employees involved in trade unions," said Touhidur.
The research report claimed that poor implementation of the law pulls the country down on the international labour rights list.
The Institute's Vice-Chairman Amirul Haque Amin demanded that the government comply with provisions 102 and 190 of the ILO Convention. He also demanded ensuring the right of trade unions to be formed at nine Export Processing Zones and 100 Economic Zones.