Experts for Facilitating Trade Unions for Workers in Southwestern Bangladesh

Migration experts, civil society and trade union leaders have called upon the policymakers and the central workers’ leaders in Bangladesh to pave the way for forming “trade unions” for the poor and vulnerable workers who were especially engaged in the fisheries and other sectors in the country’s climate change hit south-western districts.

They made the remarks while speaking at advocacy workshop to share research findings on “Intersection of Climate Change, Migration and Changing Economy,” organized by Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association (BOMSA) at the National Press Club on Sunday (February 28,2021) with support of the USAID and the Solidarity Center-Bangladesh.

The advocacy workshop was held under the Global Labor Program: Awareness Raising for Labor Standards, Social Compliance and Industrial Relations for Bangladesh workers (domestic and migrants) being implemented by American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

Moderating the session, Supreme Court lawyer and BOMSA director Farida Yeasmin said that climate change, migration and trafficking were related with each other’s and these issues could not be separated easily.

Referring to expert studies, she said that by 2050, one in every seven people in Bangladesh would be displaced by the climate change.

Replying to a question, Farida Yeasmin said that policymakers particularly the central leaders should have to come forward to support the grassroots workers to form trade unions to improve their respect for freedom of association.

In her welcome address, Solidarity Center’s senior program officer Dr Lily Gomes said that over the years climate change has been leaving adverse impacts on the environment. Many people have been forced lose their own lands and they were also forced to leave their homesteads due to impact of climate change, she said.

Dr Lily Gomes said that being forced by adverse impact of climate change the people were moving from rural areas to cities and then from one country to another in search of better shelters and employment.

On behalf of Solidarity Center, Dr Lily Gomes welcomed all of the attendees for their active participation in the advocacy workshop.

BOMSA general secretary Sheikh Rumana also thanked all participants for their positive responses to attend and make the program a successful one.

Solidarity Center’s program officer Aysha Akter presented her keynote and the findings of the research on Intersection of Climate Change, Migration and Changing Economy.

Trade union leader and Bangladesh Migrant Workers Forum Adviser Abul Hossain, Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) general secretary Ziaul Hoque Mukta, BOMSA chairman Lily Jahan, migration expert Aminul Hoque Tushar, Awaj Foundation director for migration Anisur Rahman Khan, among others also spoke at the workshop.

The low-wage workers employed in the fish processing and packaging industries, rice mills, hatcheries, other farm and non-farm sectors in Khulna and Jashore regions of Bangladesh were found typically unaware about their involvement of trade unions, according to a new study.

The ignorance about unions kept the workers, in fact, deprived of availing assistance and services for their better pay and conditions at the workplaces, said experts.

 As a key strategy for informing workers on how to adapt to the impacts of climate change and create the conditions for decent work everywhere, the new study recommended improving respect for freedom of association and capacity building of workers to organize unions in these regions.

The study ‘Intersection of Climate Change, Migration and Changing Economy’ done under the auspice of the Solidarity Center and the USAID at Khulna and Jashore regions of Bangladesh was formally launched from Washington DC of United States of America (USA) on July 2, 2020.

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