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PM seeks cooperation for introduction of "employment injury scheme"

DHAKA, May 11, 2017 (BSS) - Seeking active cooperation of the owners and the workers organizations for introduction of a long-term sustainable "employment injury scheme," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon the employers to be more sympathetic towards the workers for further boosting production.

"I would like to tell the owners to be more sympathetic and look after the wellbeing of those who increase production by keeping operative the mills and factories by giving labour," she said.

Sheikh Hasina added: "Simultaneously I want that the workers would be more sincere in keeping the mills and factories operational through which the arrangement for their income is made."

The prime minister was addressing a function at her office here this
morning on the occasion of distribution of cheques for financial assistance among the successors of the workers, who were killed in accidents or died, as well as their meritorious children.

State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu presided over the function, while chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Labour and Employment Ministry Begum Monnujan Sufian also spoke.

Labour and Employment Secretary Michael Shipar delivered the welcome
address.

Putting emphasis on establishing a long-term sustainable "employment injury scheme," the prime minister said that the government has already started work to this end by considering the recent incidents in the garment sector.

"In this case, the German government and ILO are providing financial and technical assistance," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the current Bangladesh Labour law has a provision for giving proper compensation if any worker dies due to any accident or diseases or loses working capability.

"But a huge amount is needed for giving compensation in the case of a major accident and we're feeling its (employment injury scheme) necessity due to recent accidents happened in the garment sector," she said.

The prime minister said the representatives of the government, owners and workers have already visited the Employment Injury Scheme in Germany. "In the light of this experience, we hope that we would be able to build such a scheme befitting to the country through which giving proper compensation to the workers would be easier," she said.

Spelling out her government's various measures for ensuring welfare of the workers, the premier said whenever Awami League came to power, it established the rights of the working class people and ensured peace, production and development.

"One of our goals is to protect the interest and ensure the welfare of the working class people who are contributing directly to production and development," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the Awami League has been working for the welfare of the common people. "We're pursuing politics for the welfare of the farmers and working class people," she said.

Pointing out that no country could be developed without industrialization, the premier said the government is very much active in ensuring peace and production in the mills and factories.

The prime minister said the goal of the government is to further advance and develop the country. "But I think it's our responsibility for looking after the wellbeing and welfare of those who are key to the development and we're working to achieve the goal," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government has constituted Bangladesh Workers
Welfare Foundation Fund to ensure welfare of the workers working in different sectors.

"We've taken various realistic and sustainable programmes for the workers including raising the minimum wages and improving living standard and ensuring medicare and training," she said.

"I think implementation of these programmes will boost productivity
alongside increasing efficiency of the workers and establishing a peaceful working environment," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government has enacted the Bangladesh Labour
(amendment) Act, 2013 by making time-befitting the Bangladesh Labour Law, 2006 and the Bangladesh Labour Rules, 2015. "We reopened the mills and factories that were closed down during the BNP-Jamaat rule," she said.

The prime minister said the government had enacted the Bangladesh Workers Welfare Foundation (amendment) Act, 2013 and its rules.

"Under the law, we've constituted the Bangladesh Workers Welfare Foundation Fund for the welfare and protection of the workers working in the institutional and non-institutional sectors and ensuring education of their children," she said.

The prime minister said the government has increased the balance of the fund to Taka 200 crore from Tk 8.44 lakh from 2009. "The main source of this fund is business establishments and company profit," she said.

From the fund, she said, Taka 5 crore welfare help, group insurance and scholarships have been given to over 1000 workers working in different sectors.

The prime minister said financial assistance of Tk 5 crore has so far been given to 966 workers and their families. Today cheques for financial help were given to 64 working class people and their family members, she said.

She said the government has announced minimum wages for the workers of 38 industrial sectors including garment. "We have raised minimum wages of the RMG workers to Tk 5,300 from Tk 1600 and constituted a central fund for the first time for their overall welfare," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Tk 40 crore have been so far deposited to the fund since July 2016. "We have also ensured equal wages for the huge number of female workers working in different industries including garment," she said.

The prime minister said the government has formulated the National Child Labour Prevention Policy, the National Professional Health and Safety Policy and the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy.

She said a programme for creating awareness about various issues including health and reproductive health of the female workers working in 62 tea gardens at a cost of Tk 5.49 crore is underway.

Sheikh Hasina said there is no alternative to training for increasing professional efficiency and development. "An agreement among the German government, the Labour and Employment Ministry and ILO was signed in 2015 for training and 120 workers, owners and the government representatives already received training in Germany, Cambodia and Malaysia in the last two years," she said.

The prime minister said her government has been working tirelessly for imparting training, retraining and social rehabilitation. "Even we are considering providing pension to the workers who are fully incapable of working," she said.

Paying tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina said framers and working class people fought together for independence under the leadership of Bangabandhu.

She said Bangabandhu wanted that the country would be developed and
prosperous. "The aim of the independence was for ensuring welfare of the farmers and working class people and the Awami League government has been working to achieve the goal," she said.

Later, the premier distributed cheques for financial assistance among 64 persons including successors of the deceased workers and their meritorious children studying in medical, engineering and agriculture disciplines and universities from the Bangladesh Workers Welfare Foundation.