Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ensure workplace safety, PM to entrepreneurs

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked the country’s mill and factory owners to ensure the safety and overall welfare of their workers if they want to do business.
“You (owners) will have to ensure workers’ fair wages, allowances and other rights…you must look after their workplace safety if you want to do business,” she said while addressing a discussion at Osmani Memorial Auditorium marking the historic May Day.
The Prime Minister also called upon the workers not to be misguided with false propaganda and involve in any destructive activities as those are suicidal for the country’s economy. Terming workers as the driving force and the lifeline of industries, agriculture and other service sectors, Sheikh Hasina said the country’s economic progress largely depends on their sincerity and working spirit.
She asked the workers to hand over the conspirators instigating violence from outside to the law enforcers for protecting the country’s industry for their ill-motive and vested interest.
Sheikh Hasina directed the Home Ministry to arrest those who went on rampage in different mills and factories recently after checking video footages. Referring to the tragic building collapse at Savar, the Prime Minister said her government has undertaken short-, mid- and long-term plans to prevent the recurrence of such incident in the future.
In this context, she requested the industrialists and the owners of mills and factories to take necessary measures to implement those plans. Hasina said her government does not want to see the workers crying anymore and laid emphasis on ensuring the highest-level of security, working environment and fair wages and other allowances as per the Labor Law and ILO Convention. The Prime Minister thanked all the rescue workers, including members of the Army, Fire Service, BGB, Police, Rab and volunteers, and termed the engagement of all in such a humanitarian rescue activities as an unprecedented event. “Caring little about the risk of their lives, the rescue workers retrieved over 2,500 people from the rubble which is rare in the world,” the premier told her audience. Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken necessary steps to ensure better treatment of the every injured worker, made an arrangement of jobs for the workers of the RMG factories housed in Rana Plaza, and the rehabilitation of the families of the dead workers and the injured.
Presided over by Labor and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju, the function was addressed, among others by State Minister Begum Munnujan Sufian, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry Israfil Alam, Deputy Director General of ILO Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo. Secretary of the Ministry Mikhail Shiffer delivered welcome address at the function arranged by the Labor and Employment Ministry. The theme of this year’s May Day is ‘Safe workplace, move forward Bangladesh’.
Appreciating this year’s May Day theme as a time-befitting one, Sheikh Hasina called upon the entrepreneurs and industrialists to ensure the overall compliance in all industries, including the export-oriented ones.
The Prime Minister also said the present government has initiated to amend the Labour Act through incorporating some rules on labour union as well as keeping provisions of organising trade unions and participatory committees.
Besides, the National Child Labour Policy 2010 and National Labour Policy 2012 and National Wage and Productivity Commission have been formulated for the welfare of the working people while the retirement age of the workers has been raised to 60 years from 57 in addition to ensuring minimum wage of Tk 3000.
During the previous tenure of her government, Sheikh Hasina said, a good number of state-owned industries were leased out on partnership basis among the workers and those are now making profits. In this connection, she mentioned the reopening of People’s Jute Mill in Khulna and Kaumi Jute Mill in Sirajganj, bringing back smile to the faces of the workers. About sending worker abroad, she said, initiatives have been taken to export manpower under government to government (G2G) arrangement with a minimum cost.
She also said the Expatriate Welfare Bank has been set up to provide soft loans to the poor to mitigate their migration costs. Besides, the present government has been providing training to the workers, including female workers, and a record 37,300 trained female workers went abroad last year.

  • Iftekhar Hassan

    I like your idea honorable PM, I recommend copying American OHSA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) guidelines and apply them in Bangladesh.

  • trybestone

    PM should first tell government leaders like Murad Jung and others and their sister concerns like BCL and JL members like Rana not to abuse the power and use corrupt unethical practices in business. Once that is done it will send an alarming signal to business community and no one will dare to break laws.

  • K. T. Rahman

    A little sincere and honest intention is enough to improve this situation. We need to keep in mind that RMG sector is now the blood of our economy. Go ahead our Prime Minister.

  • M.Ashraf

    We basically need the government to take responsibility for its citizens. Not more red tape. Have an independent organisation that can hold organisations accountable through suspension of license and fines along with the support of the judiciary and police to back them.
    Firstly, we need more control from the top down. Firstly, our leaders including the PM need to take responsibility and be accountable for our safety. They need to push down and delegate this responsibility and definitely hold them accountable. Asking the owners to take responsibility is not going to work because it cuts into their profits. They need to be held accountable for safety. A tiger without teeth cannot bite.