Rationale and background of vulnerable workers: There are approximately 50 million workers in Bangladesh, with 80 percent in the informal labour market. The country’s legal structure also lays claim to a corpus of labour legislation and a judicial structure that guarantee access to employment, a secure and safe work environment, and equal and just wages. Nonetheless, in the reality of both the formal, informal and migrant workers’ sector these laws are either unknown or purposely ignored by both employers and government representatives responsible for their application. The Workers’ Rights programme attempts to strengthen and apply the existing labour laws that protect the interests of the nation’s labour force. MJF has been very active at the national level in developing new legislation that reinforces worker protection.
Rationale and background of working children: In Bangladesh around 1.3 Million children are engaged in hazardous work. This works jeopardise the physical, mental or moral well-being of a child, either because of its nature or because of the conditions in which it is carried out. Moreover, due to the involvement in hazardous work children are deprived of all their rights, Such as right to education, health, recreation, development and most importantly the protection.
MJF has developed its program to eliminate hazardous child labour from different sectors. The program interventions have both preventive and rehabilitative strategies for the projection of these vulnerable children. With the implementing experience of last 11 years MJF has gradually developed a comprehensive model to eliminate hazardous child labour which has five major strategies; such as Prevention, Rehabilitation, Protection, Development and Sustainability.
Goal of the programme:
Vulnerable children and workers are protected from exploitation and abuse ensuring their rights and better livelihood.
Purpose: To facilitate the ‘critical engagement’* of the workers, employers, Government and other relevant stakeholders ensuring rights of the workers.
[*critical engagement refers to the dynamic efforts that continuously initiate an action, followed by reflection and further action for achieving an objective through collaborative means.]
Outcome of the programme:
üImproved livelihoods and working condition of agriculture workers, domestic workers, garment workers, shrimp workers and migrant workers and their families.
ü Bargaining capacity of workers with employers increased.
üAccess to government and non-government services like health and legal services and social safety net program of government increased.
üWage discrimination between women and men decreased.
ü Labour rule, Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy enacted
üLabour amendment act 2013 and labour policy 2012, Migrant workers law 2013 implemented
üMinimum wages of RMG, chatal and shrimp workers implemented.
Total PNGOs: 13; Total divisions: 7; Total districts: 16 (Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rangpur, Rajshahi, Tangail, Comilla, Mymensingh, Gazipur, Barisal, Brahammanbaria, Manikgong, Norshindi, Nilphamari, Satkhira, Narayangong)
Allocated budget: 17,93,23,106 BDT
Capacity building (duty-bearer & rights-holder)
Economic opportunity creation
Identified advocacy issues:
Implementation of minimum wages of RMG workers, Shrimp processing workers, Rice processing workers
Implementation of Labor amendment act 2013
Implementation of National labor policy 1980
Implementation of Overseas Employment and Migration Act, 2013
Implementation of UN Convention on migrant workers 1990
Workers received their minimum wage as their legal wages and benefit through claiming rights.
Maternity benefits of women workers secured,
Trade unions were formed in Shrimp processing sector.
Set-up a Rehabilitation and Training Centre as the focal point for service delivery and functioning. Provide medical support, limbs & equipment's, counseling and alternative training to workplace victim workers.
Conducted research in 2006 on National Minimum Wage for Workers’ Socio-economic Security: Rights, Realities and Way Forward and supported the stakeholders for policy level intervention.
Study on Ensuring Decent work & Decent Life for RMG Workers: Role of Stakeholders.
Study Report on RMG Industry Trade Union Profile of Bangladesh
Total 5400 Agricultural workers become organizer and leader. Wage level increased and wage -gap decreased between male and female workers
A Domestic Workers Rights Network (DWRN) formed with the participation of 32 major National Trade Union Federations, Human Rights organizations. The network creates pressure to the government to have a code of conduct for the employers of the domestic worker.
Potential migrants are benefited through the safe migration information dissemination activities
Potential migrants received Pre decision and Pre departing training
Departing migrants received Migration Finance Loan from PKB
Migrants have received assistance for fraudulence, death and accidental compensation from BMET, DEMO and local arbitration.
üFactory owners continue to deny the rights of workers who are working under contractors and avoid any responsibility for these workers.
üThe unequal power relation between workers and owners continues to be a major challenge. Owners remain powerful and can do anything they want. As a result it remains an ongoing challenge to establish and sustain powerful trade unions.
üThe lengthy judicial process continues to be a challenge and cause of frustration for workers.
üFemale migrant workers insecurity at workplace making them to leave the job and return back to their village home.
üVisa Checking, Visa Translation Centres are not available in the districts even in the migration prone areas
üLack of Transparency in Recruitment Process of Bangladesh Recruitment agencies. Unethical Recruitment cost for the potential migrants and unavailability of recruitment services at the grassroots level
Advocacy on National Minimum wage standards and sector based minimum wages
Advocacy to improve workers health and safety in the work place
Advocacy for decent work environment
Advocacy to increase the capacity of the govt. institutions to protect the workers.
Migrant workers issue:
Increased grassroots activities for skill migration which will be more result based
Work on reintegration program for returnee migrants
Activate Probashi Kallayan Bank (PKB)
—More area coverage on agriculture workers sectors
—To Strengthen federation activities and institutionalization of these federation activities so that they can work by themselves
—To promote livelihood options
—Campaign for enacting Agri labour law
—Ensure appointment letter, job contract and from the employers for all for Domestic Workers
Outcome of the program:
a)Children withdrawn from hazardous work and enrolled in formal schools.
b)Children replaced from hazardous to non hazardous jobs.
c)Children reassigned from hazardous to non hazardous task within the same work places.
d) Employers complied the code of conduct to ensure conducive environment.
e)Children got access to first aid and primary treatment facilities.
f)Children enrolled in formal school before entering into labour market.
20000 children of 6-9 years old who are at risk for entering into labour market.
25000 children of 8-14 years old who are engaged in hazardous child labour.