Today as we observe historic May Day along with the rest of the world there is a distress signal for workers. The lead story of yesterday’s daily sun informs that most of the establishments and factories across the country are vulnerable to fire accidents. The report says there are serious lapses in fire safety measures and necessary training for defence against fire incidents.
It is the workers who keep the wheels of economy running, but in return what they receive is too little, to say the least. Moreover, they are engaged in factories where job security and workplace safety is a crying shame. Garment workers occasionally face deadliest sting of building collapse and fire, and as a result hundreds are buried or burned alive. And it is also them who lose job at the whim of factory owners.
Safety of workers at workplace is an issue of human life and survival, and yet it is perhaps one of the most neglected issues. While safety environment in RMG factories has been improved significantly after Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse, safety measures in other type of factories remained as flimsy as ever. Construction workers and day labourers and others who belong to the unorganised sector and enjoy no institutional support are the most vulnerable in this regard.
So, on May Day it is expected that all agencies involved and stakeholders will continue to strive for protection and promotion of workers’ rights. All the business establishments and factories should take foolproof safety measures. Workplace safety should be utmost priory. And then there are other labour right issues such as job security, minimum wage, maternity leave etc which should also be taken seriously.
One more thing that we must shed light is the issue of child labourers. Their condition is no better than slaves. Although the Ministry of Labour and Employment banned 38 types of work hazardous for children, many factories and workshops are employing children in a clear disregard of the law.
There is hardly any monitoring. Unprotected by laws, these working children neither enjoy any minimum wage, nor is there any limit on how much workload their employers may place on them. The authorities concerned must get serious about protecting these working children and workers as well.