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Ratifying ILO convention on domestic workers an imperative for Bangladesh

  • Published at 06:25 pm November 26th, 2018
female migrant workers Saudi Arabia tRajib Dhar
More than 1,500 female migrant workers, most of whom were employed as domestic help , have returned from Saudi Arabia this year alone Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

'Ratifying the ILO convention will not only help protect the rights of domestic workers in Bangladesh, but also those abroad'

Experts have said it is imperative for Bangladesh to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 189 on domestic workers, to protect the rights of the workers and ensure decent working conditions.

Despite being a signatory to the convention, Bangladesh is yet to ratify it.

Speakers made the call to ratify the convention at the National Consultation on Ratification of ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers. The program was jointly organized by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) and the Domestic Workers’ Rights Network (DWRN) at Hotel 71 in Dhaka yesterday.

Addressing the program, DWRN Co-coordinator Abul Hossain said: “Domestic workers are often neglected and not recognized as workers, despite their significant contribution to the economy. They are deprived of minimum wages, decent working hours, accommodation, maternal and weekly leave.” 

“Bangladesh has hundreds of thousands of workers abroad, working as domestic aides in miserable conditions. Ratifying the ILO convention will not only help protect the rights of domestic workers in Bangladesh, but also those abroad,” he added. 

Bangladesh will be able to compel employers of Bangladeshi workers in other countries to ensure a safe work environment after ratifying the convention, Abul further said.

The Bangladesh government approved the Domestic Workers’ Protection and Welfare Policy (DWPWP) on December 21 in 2015. Participants at the program said that the adoption of the DWPWP marked a milestone in providing legal recognition to domestic service in the country. 

However, they also said the government needed to revise the policy, as it did not touch many components such as minimum wage, minimum working hours, and leave. 

ATM Saiful Islam, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, said that the government has had many achievements in various sectors, but the issues of domestic workers were yet to be properly addressed.

However, he added that the government was already taking initiatives to eradicate the problems of domestic workers. “The recent policy has been formulated very carefully, to protect the domestic workers rights. It includes a monitoring committee and an inspection team, to monitor the status of the workers and their working conditions.” 

“The inspection team can monitor the conditions in workplaces, and strong action can be taken against the perpetrators if any irregularities are found,” he said. 

“It is time to prepare both the employers and the workers to follow, and implement the policy,” the deputy secretary added. 

Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) Executive Director Md Zafrul Hasan and RMMRU Executive Director CR Abrar also spoke at the program. 

They urged the government to legally recognize domestic workers, and called for people of the country to change their mindset towards these workers. 

Later, Migrant Forum in Asia’s Myleen Inohiaban delivered a presentation titled “The need for Ratification of ILO Convention 189, the Scenario in Asia and the Plan for Bangladesh.” 

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