The Hotel Restaurant Sweetmeat Workers Federation placed a six-point demand on Sunday with the State Minister for Labour and Employment to take effective measures in alleviating the crisis of Covid-19 affected workers in the hotel and restaurant sector.
Their demands came following the government announcement of a seven-day nationwide lockdown starting Monday.
The demands were placed through the Inspector General of the Department of Factory and Establishment Inspection at 11.20 am, the federation said in a press statement.
They said, due to the sharp rise in the Covid-19 outbreak, the government has announced a lockdown—the first so far this year. Following the announcement, employers in the hotel and restaurant sector are deciding to lay off workers without paying their arrears and festival allowances.
"This is causing widespread labor unrest among workers. As long time representatives of workers in the hotel sector, we are again raising a proposal to protect workers and the industry under the current circumstances."
Their demands include: 1) Employers to provide all facilities, including full wages for workers. 2) No lay-off of workers during the pandemic. The Ministry of Labor and Employment will have to issue a specific directive in this regard. 3) The Government and the employer shall bear all responsibility for isolation measures and proper medical treatment of workers who have already been infected with Covid-19. 4) An adequate rationing system should be introduced for all hotel workers. 5) In order to ensure the health protection of workers, risk allowance and in case of death due to Covid-19, compensation equal to single-life income should be paid. 6) A minimum of Tk10,000 per month should be paid directly by the government to workers, as an incentive.
Earlier on the day, workers of the hotel and restaurant sector held a brief rally and procession in front of the National Press Club at 10 am. Akhtaruzzaman Khan, vice-president of Bangladesh Hotel Restaurant Sweetmeat Workers Federation, presided over the rally.
Prakash Dutta, joint general secretary and Atiqul Islam Titu, member of Bangladesh Trade Union Association, and Md Babul Hossain, president of Motijheel Thana Committee of the Bangladesh Hotel Restaurant Sweet Bakery Workers Union, spoke at the event.
The speakers said more than 30 lakh workers are employed in the hotel and restaurant sector, and their families are dependent on them. A large part of the total population of the country is making a living by directly or indirectly depending on this sector, they added.
"However, the profit-oriented thinking of owners in this sector, and their mentality of avoiding responsibilities, has made the lives of workers uncertain. Workers in the sector have lost their jobs since the outbreak of Covid-19 last year. With the closure of hotels and restaurants amid the lockdown last year, owners stopped paying nominal wages to their workers."
According to the press statement, many of the workers employed are suffering from Covid-19 and its symptoms, mainly due to lax compliance of hygiene rules in their workplaces. But the owners are refusing to provide them with medical treatment, risk allowance, and compensation.