The government should create a national task force to implement the Domestics Workers' Protection and Welfare Policy 2015, speakers said on Monday.
The discussion, organised by Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), was held at CIRDAP auditorium.
They also suggested that the task force be comprised of rights-based NGOs, national trade unions, employers' associations and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The adoption of the policy, which was approved by the Cabinet on December 21 last year, marks the end of a decade-long demand from the Domestic Workers Rights Network (DWRN).
The speakers further said the policy, if implemented properly, would bring positive changes in the lives of more than two million people, mostly women and children, who have migrated from the rural areas to the urban areas and adopted domestic work as a livelihood opportunity.
“We should bring this policy to the best possible way of implementation. This will help both the domestic workers at home and the migrant domestic workers with their rights,” said Israfil Alam, member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Labour and Employment and also the chief guest at the event.
But it is not just the state's responsibility to put the policy into effect, he said. “Awareness in this regard should be raised and practiced in our own families.”
He further said it was worrisome that the labour organisations in Bangladesh were becoming ineffective in fighting for labours' rights every day while the owners' and employers' organisations were becoming more powerful. “This is why it is becoming more difficult for labour organisations to implement the labour act.”
A research paper relevant to the topic of discussion was presented by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) from Dhaka University, which suggested legal reform and ratification of International Labour Organisation Convention 189, abolition of child labour, and dissemination of awareness and follow-up on court cases filed against employers for physical, mental and sexual abuse committed against domestic workers.
Presided over by RMMRU Chairman Tasneem Siddiqui, the discussion was also attended by BILS Executive Director Syed Sultan Ahmed, Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers' Association's Executive Director Salma Ali, Dhaka University's Prof CR Abrar and Bangladesh Trade Union Centre President Dr Wazedul Islam, among others.