Bangladesh Apparel Workers Federation (BAWF), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, has called upon the government of Bangladesh to adopt social protection programs to guarantee the livelihoods of workers and their families.
BAWF requested this in a letter to State Minister for Labour and Employment, Begum Monnujan Sufian, on Wednesday, read a press release.
In the letter, BAWF called upon the government to initiate a consultation process with the undersigned unions to ensure that workers are protected in times of calamities such as the present ongoing pandemic.
On behalf of the Bangladesh Apparel Workers Federation, President Md Towhidur Rahman and General Secretary Tahmina Rahman signed the letter.
According to the letter, social protection is emerging as a key policy issue in South Asia, and social protection policies and programmes in Bangladesh need to be scaled up and become more systemic, transparent, and inclusive.
To achieve this, the letter argued, increasing investment in social protection, ensuring that the coverage is as comprehensive as needed, both in terms of targeted people and areas, and ensuring proper implementation is needed.
According to the letter, the share of GDP spent on social protection hovers around 2% in most countries in South Asia, compared to a global average of 11%, so there is a major need to increase government spending on social protection programs.
The letter further stated that trade unions need to be part of the process of instituting better and more comprehensive social protection programmes.
The letter highlighted the loss of wages from 8 – 16% across the region in the last decade as a result of precarious employment.
"Millions of workers across the region lost wages in April-May, largely due to non-payment of wages by employers and that is why trade unions are now focusing on social security and social protection," the letter continued.