Highlights: PM's suggestions to mitigate migrant workers' plight
- Jobs of migrant workers at the overseas markets must be retained during this crisis
- In case of lay-off, compensation and other dismissal benefits must be paid in full along with ensuring their safety and health benefits
- After the pandemic, these workers would have to be recruited for reactivating the economy
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon global leaders, international financial institutions, the United Nations and civil society to converge around the ILO's Centenary Declaration to eradicate unemployment and build a better world addressing the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic.
"The promise of decent jobs for all seems hard to realise individually, but I am convinced that together, we can do it," she said while speaking at a two-day virtual global summit on Covid-19 and the World of Work hosted by the ILO (International Labour Organisation).
Speaking on the Global Leaders' Day on Wednesday -- the first day of the global discussions being held on July 8-9, the premier described the Covid-19 pandemic as a "full-fledged global economic and social crisis" and called for concerted efforts from all nations and other stakeholders to address the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, which has laid bare the extreme vulnerability of millions of workers and enterprises.
"UN and international organizations will be at the centre of all recovery measures to be supported by G-7, G-20, OECD and international financial institutions," she said.
In a six-minute video address, Sheikh Hasina documented how Bangladesh's ready-made garment (RMG) sector was hardest hit, losing billions of dollars of export orders and how millions of workers, across many industries, lost their jobs, said an ILO press release.
Like many other crises, the LDCs and developing countries are facing the main burden although the crisis did not start with them, she said.
The prime minister noted, "During this pandemic, our domestic and external supply chains were severely disrupted. We lost export orders of billions of dollars, many of our industries were closed and millions of workers lost their jobs.
"Our small industries lost most of its resources and markets, and above all, our agriculture suffered huge loss due to supply chain disruption. On the back of it, we are hosting 1.1 million forcibly evicted Rohingyas from Myanmar."
She also outlined a number of emergency stimulus and social protection measures initiated by her government, the press release added.
"When the crisis began to unfold, we immediately announced a $12.1 billion stimulus package for various sectors of our economy, as well as support to different segments of our society," she said.
"We have given about 1 billion dollars for paying the wages of RMG workers and provided cash and other incentives to over 50 million people who lost their daily income during this pandemic."
The PM also shared the plight of millions of Bangladeshi migrant workers and the devastating impact job losses are having on remittances in her nation. The World Bank predicts that Bangladesh will lose more than 20 percent of its remittance earnings, equivalent to $4 billion, this year alone.
Mentioning that the virus does not discriminate but its adverse impacts severely discriminate against the vulnerable, especially the migrants and women workers, the premier made a set of three suggestions in this regard.
The suggestions are: Jobs of migrant workers at the overseas markets must be retained during this crisis; in case of lay-off, compensation and other dismissal benefits must be paid in full along with ensuring their safety and health benefits; and after the pandemic, these workers would have to be recruited for reactivating the economy.
The premier also thanked the ILO for hosting the Global Summit and for all its support during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Tuomo Poutiainen, ILO country director for Bangladesh expressed his appreciation for the way in which the government, employers and workers' organisations have worked together to tackle the safe return to work, unemployment and business challenges brought on by Covid-19, read the ILO release.
"While addressing the numerous challenges we all face today, it is important that we continue working together for the future in developing robust social protection schemes and investing in skilling and jobs programmes for youth, women and others in vulnerable situations," Poutiainen said.
The ILO Global Summit is the largest ever online gathering of workers, employers and governments, which examined a range of issues, including: How to promote full and productive employment in this new environment; what needs to be done to address the massive vulnerabilities in the world of work made evident by the pandemic; which workers require particular support and attention; how to position the reduction and elimination of poverty as central objectives of the recovery process; and how the international community can come together with real common purpose and rededicate itself to the delivery of the UN's 2030 Agenda.
On the second day of the summit, labour ministers, workers' and employers' leaders from ILO member States will reflect on the previous days' events and discuss the implementation of the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work in the context of the pandemic.
Begum Monnujan Sufian, state minister for labour and employment, will address the audience on behalf of Bangladesh.