Human rights activists, trade union leaders and researchers have called upon the authorities concerned to bring the construction sector under a legal framework to ensure rights of thousands of workers who carry out the risky jobs.
They stated that constriction workers should be brought under registration, given training and issued formal appointment letters ahead of recruitment to the construction sites so that they could demand and realize rights properly.
They also underscored the need for strengthening labour organizations, enhancing monitoring and inspections by the authorities to the construction sites to check malpractices in the sector.
The rights activists made their remarks and observations while speaking at a dissemination workshop on ‘Recruitment of Internal Migrants Construction Workers in Bangladesh’ at CIRDAP auditorium on Thursday.
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU), an affiliate research organisation of Dhaka University and Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies jointly organised it.
Dhaka University professor and RMMRU coordinator CR Abrar made a presentation at the workshop.
The workshop was organised under the study on recruitment of internal migrant construction workers in Bangladesh which was conducted by RMMRU under auspices of Migrating out of Poverty consortium, University of Sussex, UK and supported by UK Aid.
The research team members are CR Abrar, Mirza Taslima Sultana, Kazi Nurmohammad Hossainul Huq, Priya Desingkar and Md Selim Reza. The field work was conducted at Dhaka and Chapainawabganj during May-July 2015.
This qualitative study was a follow-up of a previous RMMRU-RPC study conducted in 2012 that covered 150 construction workers in Dhaka and 160 internal migrant and non-migrant households in Chapainawabganj and Chandpur.
The principal objective of the study was to understand the dynamics of recruitment process of construction workers in Bangladesh , why the employers prefer to engage intermediaries in recruitment of workers and why the migrant workers utilize the services of intermediaries to access employment.
Presiding over the workshop, noted human rights activist and academic Hameeda Hossain said that huge numbers of internal migrant workers were now getting employed in the construction and shipbuilding sectors in Bangladesh.
‘No rule is being followed in the process of their recruitment. This sector should be brought under a legal framework,’ she said.
Public health activist and freedom fighter Zafrullah Chowdhury said that the government has no interest to ensure workplace safety and job security to the construction workers.
Construction workers should have access to healthcare facilities suitable for them; he said, adding that the government should ensure their ‘fair rights’ to get compensation in accidents or deaths.
Advocate Jafar Uddin Sharif said that as per law of the land construction sector is one of the formal sectors in Bangladesh.
The issues of construction workers could be monitored by government’s department, he said, adding that before appointment, the workers should be registered with the labour inspection department.
BILS assistant executive director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed said that the construction sector is one of the risky areas and the workers should be ensured that they get appointment letters before joining the workplace.
The workers are denied appointment letters due to informal recruitment process in this sector, he said.
Momtazul Karim Khan, executive director at Mir Akhter Hossain Limited, a real estate company, said that concerned government authorities should emphasize on providing skill training to the construction workers.
Trade union leaders Mahbub Alam and Saiful Saki and Selim Reza from RMMRU also spoke at the workshop.