The Bangladesh Hotel Restaurant Sweetmeat Workers Federation on Monday issued a memorandum to the prime minister, demanding a stimulus package, ration system, job security and medical service for their workers to save the industry from the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On this occasion, a central rally was held in front of the National Press Club in the morning, which was presided over by Joynal Abedin, vice-president of the federation.
Speakers at the rally said Bangladesh's economic structure is deeply intertwined with the global economic supply chain. The workers in the hotel sector are also affected by the Covid-19. As a result, the country must take various steps now to get rid of an imminent global economic recession and famine.
More than 30 lakh workers are working in this sector. Including their families, a large part of the total population of the country is making a living by directly or indirectly depending on this sector. However, due to the owners' profit-making attitude and a mentality of taking no responsibility of workers, the life of the workers in this sector has become uncertain.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, hotels and restaurants in the country were closed and workers became unemployed. Soon, hotel owners stopped providing all the facilities, including wages, to the workers. The owners did not even pay the last Eid-ul-Fitr festival bonus.
In special circumstances, the employers declared leave to the workers as per the decision of the government. As a result, according to the law, all the workers are entitled to other benefits, including monthly wages, from their respective organisations.
The government has announced relief, ration and incentive programmes for the unemployed workers of the informal sector. In this context, the hotel workers made a list of different districts, upazilas and regions across the country and provided it to the administration and people's representatives of the respective areas.
However, very few of the hotel workers have received the relief and incentives provided by the government.
Many of the workers, who are still working, are suffering from Covid-19 or its symptoms mainly due to the weakness in starting the organisation in compliance with the hygiene rules.
The owners, however, are not providing them with medical treatment, risk allowance and compensation. As a result, a large section of hotel workers across the country are still unemployed and living an inhuman life.
The speakers further said the workers of hotel restaurants and sweet bakery establishments must receive regular relief, incentives and rationing measures including medical guarantees at government initiatives.
Governments in different countries are sending an equal amount of money against their wages to each worker's account to help the workers counter this situation.
The leaders demanded that the government pay 100 percent of the salaries of the hotel workers until Bangladesh is free from the virus.
Khalilur Rahman, vice-president of Jatiya Ganatantrik Font, Prakash Dutta, joint general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Association, Anwar Hossain, general secretary of Bangladesh Hotel Restaurant Sweetmeat Workers Federation, Soleman Mallick, publicity secretary, Md Kaushar Hossain, office secretary, Babul Hossain and others spoke on the occasion.