A total of 264 labour movements were fomented in the readymade garment (RMG) sector in 2020, the highest in a particular sector.
In total, 593 labour movements took place in different sectors across the country.
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) disclosed the findings of a survey at a press conference at the National Press Club in the capital on Saturday.
The 'Newspaper-Based BILS Survey-2020 on Labor and Workplace Situation in Bangladesh' was conducted on the basis of reports published in various national newspapers.
The survey covered workplace accidents, torture, labour unrest and other related issues.
According to the survey, 729 workers had died in various accidents at their workplaces in 2020.
BILS Deputy Director Yusuf Al Mamun presented the findings of the survey at the press conference.
He said 49 labour movements, the second highest, were fomented in the jute industry. There were 48 labour movements in sugar industry and 45 in the transport sector. During the 593 labour movements in the year, 99 labourers (64 male and 35 female) were injured.
"The labour movements were waged to press home various demands, including payment of outstanding arrears wages, reopening of closed factories and festival bonuses," he added.
According to the survey, the number of labour movements in 2020 exceeded the figure in 2019.
"In 2019, 434 labour movements took place in different sectors, the highest - 134 – being in the RMG sector.
78 RMG workers victims of torture
According to the survey, 596 labourers were physically tortured in 2020.
The highest number of torture victims was in the transport sector with 90 labourers killed, 13 injured and four committing suicide. The second highest number of 78 torture incidents were in the RMG sector, where 25 workers were killed and 48 injured. One RMG labourer went missing in the year, three committed suicide and data about the kind of torture inflicted upon a worker was not available.
In response to a query, Al Mamun said that of the 78 torture incidents in the RMG sector, three had occurred in workplaces (one killed and two injured).
729 workplace deaths
According to the survey, 729 workplace deaths occurred in 2020. Among them, 6723 were male and six female. The transport sector had the highest number of deaths, at 348. The second highest number of deaths - 84 – had been in the construction sector, while the agricultural sector was third on the list, with 67 deaths. 1,200 workplace deaths had occurred across different sectors in 2019, including 1,193 male and seven female workers.
Meanwhile, in 2020, 433 workers were injured in accidents at their respective workplaces. Of this figure, 387 were male and 46 were female. 695 workers had been accidentally injured in 2019.
During the press conference, BILS Vice-Chairman Shirin Akhtar said, "The lion's share of export earnings comes from the garments sector. Therefore, the condition of workers in the RMG sector is what is discussed the most. But we also have to look at the other sectors to get an accurate picture of working conditions for labourers."
"We are strong in fish farming but what about the fishermen engaged in the industry? What is the condition of those setting out to fish in the deep sea? Now is the time to bring workers across all sectors under the protection of labour law, to give them a minimum wage. We demand that a national minimum wage be set, which will be applicable to labourers of all sectors," she added.
The press briefing conducted by BILS Vice-Chairman Amirul Amin was also addressed by, among others, Nationalist Workers Party President Anwar Hossain, Advisory Council Members Naimul Ahsan Jewel and Shakil Akhtar Chowdhury, Dhaka Journalists Union President Quddus Afrad and Labour Rights Journalist General Secretary Ataur Rahman.