The government will take steps to formulate agricultural labour law to give proper recognition to farmers and ensure their welfare, Labour and Employment Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said yesterday.
The ministry will do everything necessary to this end, he said as the chief guest at a national seminar on ‘Things to do to formulate agricultural labour law’ at the National Press Club.
Karmojibi Nari and Manusher Jonno Foundation jointly organised the seminar.
“Eighty percent of labourers, including farmers, do not come within the purview of the definition of labourer, as their jobs fall under the definition of informal sector. This system needs to be changed because informal sector is the main sector of Bangladesh,” the minister said.
Development of the country is not possible unless proper attention is given to the agriculture sector, which is under the informal sector, he added.
Mosharraf called upon the organisations working for the welfare of farmers to submit recommendations to the ministry, which will form a commission to scrutinise them.
Criticising the World Bank and IMF for their suggestions of not giving subsidy to the agriculture sector, the minister said that although the developed countries give huge agricultural subsidy, they tell others not to provide such subsidy.
“Our government will provide huge subsidy for this sector, as the development of the country is not possible without the development of the agriculture sector,” he said.
Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, president of Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad, said women account for 22 percent of 5.60 crore labourers in the country, but their contribution is not recognised by the government.
Agriculture sector has been developed, but no development took place in the life of farmers and agricultural labourers, he added.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, called for proper recognition to the contribution of women workers to the agricultural sector.
She also called for recognising the agricultural labourers as ‘workers’, fixing minimum wage for them and ensuring minimum workdays and rationing of food for them.
Khushi Kabir, coordinator of Nijera Kori, called for taking steps to remove discriminations against women labourers.
Although women labourers do the same amount of work, they get less wages than male workers, she said.
Rahela Rabbani of Karmojibi Nari presented a paper at the seminar moderated by its President Shirin Akhtar.
Samsuzzaman Selim, president of Khetmajur Samity, Mokhlesur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Sanjukta Sramik Federation, Iqbal Hossain Khan, president of Jatiya Krishak Jote, Sudhir Kumar Bairagi of CPD, Naima Imam Chowdhury of ActionAid, and Sheikh Azizur Rahman of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Centre also spoke.
Source: The Daily Star, 13 April 2009