End to all discriminations against garment workers demanded

Women rights activists on Tuesday urged the garments’ owners and authorities to bring an end to all kinds of discrimination against the workers in garments industry for the development of the sector.
   They made the statement while addressing a meeting on unveiling a survey report on the ‘enforcement of tripartite agreement in garments industry’ at the Women’s Voluntary Association auditorium in Dhaka.
   Karmajibi Nari conducted the survey on 440 garments of Tangi, Savar, Kafrul, Jatrabari, Tejgaon, Khilgaon and Mirpur of Dhaka and Narayanganj districts.
   According to the survey report, most garment factories violated the agreement at a high level in most of the garments factories.
   Only 25.2 per cent garment factories provide appointment letters and 61.8 per cent factories provide identity cards to the workers, the report said.
   In some cases, the cards were not handed over to the workers rather kept by the authorities after taking signatures.
   Almost all factories pay a worker the lowest Tk 1662 per month. Only 47.5 per cent factories pay it within the first week of the next month.
   Some 46.2 per cent workers claim they were not paid overtime along with the salary. Only 41 per cent factories pay less to the women workers and about 60.5 per cent discriminate against them in terms of promotion, the report said.
   The report revealed discriminations in terms of allocating leave and other facilities like festival and maternity benefits, working atmosphere, primary medical support.
   About 41.8 per cent factories allow weekly leave and only 28.9 per cent allow festival leave. A good number of workers were tortured both physically and mentally by the authorities.
   The speakers called upon the government and the garments industry authorities to solve the problems and make the social compliance cells, formed by the labour ministry in every garment factory, active and effective.
   They also demanded trade union rights, activities of wage board to set the lowest salary of the workers and amendment to the existing labour law for the betterment of the sector.
   ‘The owners should be more concerned in providing required facilities of the workers,’ Shahjahan Khan, chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on labour and employment ministry, said at the meeting.
   He pledged to place the recommendations to the National Assembly in order to bring effective amendment to the labour law.
   Ain O Salish Kendra founder member Hamida Hossain, Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies joint secretary Sultan Uddin Ahmed, labour ministry deputy secretary Amirul Islam, Karmajibi Nari president Shirin Akhter and executive director Rokeya Rafiq addressed the meeting, among others.

Source: The Daily New Age, 29 April 2009


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