Whither is workers’ rights? | 2017-05-01 | daily-sun.com

Whither is workers’ rights?

Shawkat Ali Khan     1 May, 2017 12:00 AM printer

Whither is workers’ rights?

With a heavy sack of agricultural produce on his head, Mintu Miah, a labourer, crosses a canal full of water hyacinths to earn Tk 40 for each sack. Mintu is doing such work everyday to run his family. The photo was taken at Charmurbarga in Singair upazila of Manikganj on Sunday. - Kamrul Islam Ratan

Minimum wage for workers of the country is still a far cry as most of the industrial labourers are deprived of getting living standard salary and other necessary facilities.


Although over the past few years, wages of the labourers saw some increase, overall condition of the workers is yet to be improved.  


The labour leaders blame the successive governments for being indifferent to ensuring workers’ rights.  


Workers of many industrial sectors in the country are getting poor wages though prices of essential commodities have marked a sharp increase, they said.


Shahidullah Chowdhury of Trade Union Centre came down heavily on the successive governments for turning a blind eye to the poor state of workers’ rights.


“The successive governments talked tall instead of taking any positive move to change the fate of labourers. The social condition of the workers has declined since 1990,” he told daily sun.


Shahidullah said that although the country has been graduated to a lower middle-income one, the fate of the country’s toiling masses remained unchanged.


The workers of the country are leading a very miserable life, he said.


He stressed the need for introducing trade union in the industries to pave way for the labourers getting their basic rights.


“We have been asking the government to introduce unionism in the industries. As we don’t have enough strength, we cannot compel the government and factory owners to introduce unionism,” he said.   


He also demanded Tk 10,000 as minimum wage considering the prices of essential commodities.


Garment Sramik Oikya Forum president Mushrefa Mishu said various labour laws, including International Labour Convention, are yet to be implemented.


“The workers, especially women, are the worst deprived of their rights,” she told daily sun.


Mentioning a recent labour movement at Ashulia, she said some workers had been charged with sedition due to launching of the action programme.     


“It happens as there is no democratic law for the labourers,” she said.


Stressing the need for unionism in the industries, Mishu said the garment industry has been running in the country for 40 years.


“But the workers have been deprived of trade unions,” she said.


She also demanded that the government increase the wage of the workers taking into account the existing prices of commodities.


The government should fix minimum wage at Tk 10,000 per month, the forum president said.


Some labour leaders said due to absence of constructive unionism, industrial workers are being deprived of their rights.


As the successive governments have been indifferent to workers’ rights, the owners compelled the workers to work for more than 14 hours, violating the rules of International Labour Organisation, union leaders alleged..


If the workers go for forming a trade body, they are sacked and harassed by the owners and their hired goons, they said.


Portraying sorry state of the labourers, rights activists said the government has implemented the 8th pay scale for government employees and privileges for head of state and government, lawmakers and judges while labourers are getting poor wages.


They also blamed the owners for not providing appropriate working atmosphere, safety, health facilities, leave and mechanism for dispute settlement.
Many of the workers are forced to work in risky circumstances without overtime, they said.