The Covid-19 pandemic has affected about 70% of workers in the country's six important sectors including restaurants, construction and transport, according to a recent study.
Speakers presented the findings of the study, conducted by Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (BILS), at a panel discussion styled 'May Day Awareness: Social Security and Protection of the Rights of Workers during Corona Pandemic', organised on Thursday on the occasion of the great May Day 2021.
According to the study, 98% restaurant workers, 90% construction workers, 90% transport workers, 59% port workers, 56% RMG workers and 31% health workers have been affected by the pandemic.
During the discussion, Md Monirul Islam, deputy director of Research Department of BILS, presented the research findings while discussing the issues of social security and protection of rights of workers during the corona period.
He said that according to the ILO data, the global working hours have decreased by about 10.5% during the April-June period of 2020 due to Covid-19. About 305 million people worldwide have been directly affected. About 3% of the total labour force in Bangladesh has lost their jobs.
"As there is no specific database for workers, it is difficult to determine the number of workers affected by the pandemic. The helplessness of the workers has increased due to the lack of adequate social security for them.
BILS Secretary General and Executive Director Nazrul Islam Khan said working people are in trouble during this corona period and they are worried about their families. Except the government employees all the private sector job holders are in uncertainty. At such times, it is the responsibility of the state to protect them.
In his welcome speech, BILS Joint Secretary General Wajedul Islam Khan said that the spirit of May Day is eight hours of labour, eight hours of entertainment and eight hours of leisure but these rights of the workers have not been established even in the 135 years of the May Day.
He also demanded introducing food rationing and a specialised hospital for workers.
Giyasuddin Ahmed, director of the labor department, said the government is working to ensure that workers did not lose their jobs and receive salaries and bonuses in due time.
He urged employers to be sympathetic to workers.
Speaking on the occasion, BILS Vice Chairman Anwar Hossain demanded that workers be vaccinated on priority basis as they are risking their lives working during the pandemic
He called on the trade union leaders to come forward to raise awareness among the workers about the vaccine.
The meeting was chaired by BILS Advisory Council member Naimul Ahsan Jewel and was addressed, among others, by National Workers Federation President Kamrul Ahsan, Trade Union Sangha General Secretary Chowdhury Ashiqul Alam, National Workers Alliance Bangladesh President Saifuzzaman Badshah and Bangladesh Labour Federation General Secretary Shakil Akhtar Chowdhury.