Our workers deserve respect

Bangladesh is among the 10 worst countries for working people

New research has found that Bangladesh is among the 10 worst countries for working people, with workers’ rights continuing to be severely curtailed. While our economy is in the best shape it has ever been in offering a wide selection of jobs, the situation found while doing those jobs have not changed much. 

And when we remember atrocities like Rana Plaza and compare them to recent atrocities like the depot fire in Chittagong, it becomes clear that Bangladesh is far from being a beacon for workers’ rights. 

The study released by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) ranks our countryalongside Brazil and Myanmar, with the Middle East and North Africa remaining the worst regions for workers. While the assessment might seem harsh, a cursory glance at our different sectors will quickly unravel the pitfalls which working people have to navigate. 

For example, the RMG sector -- the country’s largest industry with more than 4.5 million workers -- has repeatedly obstructed its workers from forming unions. At least six workers were shot and killed by police during strikes as well, the IUTC hinted at the police firing on workers at coal-based SS Power I Limited on July 17, 2021. 

Workers have been exposed to mass dismissals and criminal prosecution for exercising their right to protest, and these stories have become way too normalized in different sectors of Bangladesh. 

The government, and most importantly our industries, need to take this report to heart. They need to work with the researchers and relevant stakeholders so that we can improve our working conditions. 

We are on our way from graduating from LDC status. For sustained economic growth, we need to treat our workers with the respect they deserve.

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