DHAKA, Dec 31, 2017 (BSS) - Setara Begum, 40, a construction worker, who lives with her husband and a daughter in a tiny house at Gabindapur of Sanir Akhra in the capital, has been suffering from acute respiratory problem for the last 10 years.
Like many other construction workers, particularly women, she is deprived of professional safety, social security, reassessment of their wage structure, professional training and health care facilities.
"We have to work hard. My mother received injury on her head while working at the construction site. She later died," said Setara Begum, adding she didn't get any financial help from the government.
Bother Setara and her husband, Nizam Sarder, a mason, hailed from Jalalpur of Muladi under Barisal district. She earns Taka 300-400 a day. She used to take a banana every day as a remedy of respiratory problem.
The present Awami League government has taken various initiatives for ensuring social security of the construction workers whose number is around 37 lakh in the country.
They include launching a group insurance scheme for professional and social security of the workers, reassessment of wage structure, training for developing professional expertise and distribution of identity cards.
As part of the initiatives, two-thirds of insurance money of some 5,000 construction workers are now being borne by the government, said State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haq.
"Even the state-run insurance company Jibon Bima Corporation has formulated a group insurance programme for the construction workers," said he.
Under the programme, the family of a construction worker will get Taka 2 lakh in case of his or her normal or accidental death. A worker will get Taka one lakh for suffering physically disability.
"The wage of the construction workers should be revised considering the price hike of the daily essentials," said Abdur Razzaque, General Secretary of Building Construction Workers Union Bangladesh.
The wage should be equal for male and female construction workers, he added.
Quoting a research study carried out on 134 construction workers most of whom were women, Nazma Yasmin of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) said women workers were affected by skin diseases, adding that 117 construction workers were suffering from different respiratory problems as 71.6 per cent of them were brick breakers.
Of the 134 workers, 110 or 82 per cent were suffering from skin related problems and 89 workers or 66 per cent were infected with renal complications and 66 or 49 per cent were affected by constipation, the study found.
The government should ensure healthcare center, workplace safety, housing, working environment, pension scheme and rationing, minimum wage and study environment for their kids, said Mizanur Rahman Bablu, a construction worker.
The state minister for Labour and Employment, however, admitted that in most of the cases construction workers didn't use the equipment which is necessary for their security during the construction works. "We have taken legal action in some cases against the their employers," he added.