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Dhaka Tribune

‘Everyone should work together for the benefit of RMG workers’

The sector adds 0.3% of the money from LC to the government fund, which is about Tk1500 crore every year

Update : 25 Aug 2022, 07:20 PM

Government, employers and workers should all work together for the benefit of the workers of the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector, experts said on Thursday.

They also said that there are many project models being piloted in the RMG sectors, but are not sustainable, which is leading factories into fatigue.

In order to make them sustainable, they called for government initiatives to select any one effective model from all the models and take it forward.

Experts said these while speaking at a workshop titled “National Consultation on the Wellbeing of RMG Workers” organized by the Brac Urban Development Programme on Thursday.

In his speech as the chief guest, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said that all parties should work together for the well-being of the RMG workers.

“For this reason, we established an integrated National Tripartite Plan of Action (NTPA) on fire safety and structural integrity in the RMG sector of Bangladesh on July 25, 2013, with representatives from the government and employers’ and workers’ organizations,” he added.

The government has taken various steps in the field of health, occupational and mental health and forming RSC, he added.

Brac's actions since 2017 by forming OSCC to protect workers' interests are commendable.

“We can meet the challenges of this sector through the concerted efforts of all. By working together, we can graduate from LDCs in 2026, achieve SDG goals in 2030 and make Bangladesh a developed country by 2041,” he added.

In his speech, Shaidullah Azim, acting president of the BGMEA said that the garment sector is the largest single formal sector in the country, employing about 4 million people.

“The fearlessness of the entrepreneurs, the spontaneity of the workers and the policies of the government have brought this sector to this stage,” he added.

He also said that after the Rana Plaza disaster, the sector started anew, adding that now, the sector is one of the safest and most worker-friendly sectors in the world.

“This sector is working with many other partners including Brac on occupational safety, Moner Bandhu on mental health,” Azim added. He further said that to do everything more accurately, the government should take the role of a referee.

The sector adds 0.3% of the money from LC to the government fund, which is about Tk1500 crore every year. A portion of that money should be spent on workers' health.

The health and safety of workers is the responsibility of all and so, it is not an opportunity to assign the responsibility only to the employer. 

“Government, brands, owners, workers, everyone has to come forward,” he added, saying that their target is to ensure $100 billion in exports by 2030. So, the health protection of workers is very important.

Moreover, the supply of energy and fuel has to be ensured and alternative energy should be explored, Shaidullah Azim further said.

By maintaining their side, Ehasn-E-Elahi, secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment and Dr Md Enamul Haque, director general of Health Economics Unit of Health Ministry discussed various initiatives and plans taken by the government for the RMG workers. 

Sk Mujibul Huq, programme manager of Brac UDP, and Zahedul Amin, director of Light Castle Partner, presented the keynote at the event.

Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the CPD and Syed Abdul Hamid, professor of the IHE, Dhaka University, also discussed various issues.

According to the Brac UDC, under the ERMG Projects, they conduct three OSCCs in Tongi, Gazipur, and Savar.

So far, 59,916 RMG workers received direct service from OSCC, 41,425 received pharmacy and healthcare services, 2,620 received training, 3,378 received legal services, 12,557 took financial services, and 97 children received ECD services.

Imamul Azam Shahi, programme head of the Brac UDC, gave the welcome speech while Liakath Ali, director of the Climate Change Programme of BRAC, BRAC International, and BRAC UDC, chaired the event.


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