EU, Germany provide €113m to support vulnerable workers

Diplomatic Correspondent

11 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The European Union and Germany will provide 113 million Euro or nearly Tk 11.45 billion in support to Bangladesh government’s “Social Protection Programme for Unemployed and Distressed Workers in the RMG, Leather Goods and Footwear Industries.”

This programme, which is part of team Europe’s contribution to fight Covid-19 and its consequences in Bangladesh, offers a safety net to workers whose livelihoods are affected by the economic fallout.

It also contributes to strengthening the resilience of Bangladesh’s social security system, said a joint press statement of the EU and German embassies in Dhaka on Thursday.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a public health emergency with immediate economic consequences. The government of Bangladesh responded swiftly with significant stimulus packages to the industries and scaled-up assistance to mitigate socio-economic impacts, with a particular attention to Bangladeshis living in poverty or who are highly vulnerable.

The EU and Germany are joining forces with the government to safeguard the livelihoods of vulnerable workers in the garment and leather export-oriented industries who are at a heightened risk of being pushed into poverty, reads the statement. This support will allow these workers to transit over a specific critical period, without major disruptions in their lives and consumption levels.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had detrimental consequences over the world and the poor are the first to bear the brunt of this crisis. Social protection is essential to protect people in situations of vulnerability, particularly when a crisis hits,” said the EU Ambassador Rensje Teerink.

By providing income support to workers in key export sectors who lost their job, at least temporarily, the social protection programme for unemployed and distressed workers responds to an immediate need to protect livelihoods, she said.

“It is also part of longer-term efforts to establish sustainable social security mechanisms for workers, alongside continuous investments in skilling and job creation. In close coordination with our member states and like-minded partners, the EU remains committed to support the government of Bangladesh to boost the resilience of its social protection system in line with best practices,” said the EU envoy.

The German Ambassador, Peter Fahrenholtz, added: “Germany’s contribution is part of our long-standing cooperation to support the workers in the textile industry in Bangladesh. During these difficult times, we are glad to join forces with the EU in order to help the Government of Bangladesh to mitigate the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of textile workers.’’

In line with the programme guidelines issued by the Department of Labour, Ministry of Labour and Employment, in charge, temporary cash assistance will be provided to workers who suffered income losses during the pandemic and lost their jobs because of reduced worldwide demand or due to health and safety precautionary measures.

According to the guidelines, eligible workers each will receive Tk 3,000 month for a period of up to 3 months.

They will be identified in close coordination with the employers’ associations, which include Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the Leather goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) and the Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather goods and Footwear Exporters' Association (BFLLFEA).

The first payments to eligible beneficiaries should take place before the end of the year, as announced by the government, said the joint statement.

The joint grants of EU and Germany will be channeled through the EU sector budget programme on National Social Security Strategy reforms in Bangladesh.