National Domestic Woman Workers Union on Monday demanded that the government should protect rights of the country’s all workers, especially those from informal sectors like domestic and agriculture, by including them under the labour law.
Speaking at a press conference, the NDWWU leaders appealed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to formulate a democratic labour law in light of the universal human rights, ILO conventions and Bangladesh constitution to ensure better industrial relations in the country.
The labour law should protect interest of both workers and owners of the industry, they said.
The press conference was organized by NDWWU in cooperation with American Center for International labour Solidarity in the city’s Dhaka Reporters Unity.
The rights activists and the trade union leaders said that existing labour law covered legal protection for 15 per cent of workers who were employed in the formal sectors.
The rest 85 workers mostly employed in the informal sectors have been left out of the protection of labour law, they said.
Trade union leader and also NDWWU adviser Abul Hossain said that the workers employed in agriculture sector that comprised 45 per cent of the country’s total workforce remained out of the labour law coverage.
He said that there were 22-25 lakh domestic workers across the country and they were also kept out of the labour law.
Abul Hossain said that the labour law should ensure protection of rights of all labourers, including formal and informal workers.
And the labour law should be formulated on basis of universal human rights and ILO conventions and the country’s constitution, he said.
NDWWU general secretary Murshida Akhter Nahar who read out a statement said that Bangladesh labour law amendment 2018 was approved by the cabinet in principles on September 3.
The law is now waiting to be presented before the national parliament, she said, adding that amendment in the law would not be able to play role in development of industry relation.
She cited that amendments which were brought by the cabinet in the law did not reflect the spirit of the constitution and ILO conventions, so it was considered to be contradictory to rights of the workers.
Murshida Akhter urged the intervention of the Prime Minister to take her efforts to formulate a really democratic and benevolent labour law after discussing with all stakeholders including labour leaders with aim to increase the productivity in industries and improvement of relations between workers and owners.
Dhaka solidarity centre’s deputy director Kelly M. Fay Rodríguez in her brief addresses wished and thanked all participants. Expressing her feeling, she said that she was very excited as the findings of a study would be shared at the press conference.
Kelly said that she was also excited to see that the issues of the domestic workers would be covered by with the labour law.
NDWWU president Amena Begum, former president Advocate Jahanara Hosain, executive committee chairman Advocate Jobaida Pervin and Solidarity Centre’ senior programme officer Dr Lily Gomes was present at the press conference.
Meanwhile, labour leader Abul Hossain presented the findings of a survey at the press conference mentioning that 97 per cent of the domestic workers wanted an obligatory law for protection of their rights.
The survey which was conducted among 350 domestic workers in Dhaka and Chittagong in last six months found that 96 per cent of domestic workers wanted their minimum wages like other sectors.
Referring to the respondents, he said that 63 per cent domestic workers faced harassment at workplaces and 59 per cent domestic workers wanted to join trade unions.
In the recommendations, the labour leader demanded full implementation of the domestic workers’ policy 2015.
He also demanded introducing registration of the domestic workers at union or city council offices so that they could be traced out in case of missing.
Abul Hossain also demanded that the government should provide financial assistances from wage earners welfare fund to the domestic workers who have returned home from different countries as victims of abuse and other problems.