Speakers said a large number of industrial workers in the country are victims of malnutrition and this reason alone can reduce worker productivity as much as 20%.
It is therefore imperative to prioritise the safe health and nutrition of workers for implementation of the government's Vision 2021 and 204, and achieving the sustainable development goals, they said.
They made these remarks at a partnership agreement signing ceremony between the Department of Labour and GAIN Bangladesh in the capital, on Monday.
The partnership aims at increasing the capacity of the labour department and the Industrial Relations Institute (IRI), a move to improve the nutritional intake of safe foods for workers and to ensure certain guidelines for trade unions at factories.
The project is funded by the Netherlands.
Under this agreement, the labour department and GAIN Bangladesh will jointly work to improve the nutritional status of workers as part of Swapno, a GAIN project.
They will carry out different operations for raising awareness among different stakeholders working to improve nutrition and the workforce, exchanging knowledge and information, and ensuring professional health and protection.
They will jointly make training manuals, arrange training for trainers, raise awareness campaigns and hold workshops for workers.
KM Abdus Salam, secretary to the Labour and Employment Ministry, attended the event as chief guest. Goutam Kumar, director general of the labour department, and Dr Rudaba Khondker, country director of GAIN Bangladesh, among others, also spoke at the function.
Moniruzzaman Bipul, portfolio lead of GAIN Bangladesh, made a presentation on workforce and their nutrition status at the event.
KM Abdus Salam said diseases caused by malnutrition reduce the working capacity of workers, hampering national development, though the government is pledge-bound to improve the nutritional status of workers through effective measures.
In his presentation, Moniruzzaman Bipul said worker productivity can go up as much as 20%, simply if the required nutrition is assured for them.
Anemia alone, caused by iron deficiency, is responsible for reduction in productivity worth $500 crore in South Asian countries, he commented.
Under the Swapno project, GAIN is active in 21 factories in Dhaka and Chittagong, having organised training programmes on nutrition and washing for around 43,000 workers so far.