Introduction of an employment injury insurance programme in the readymade garment sector could establish a formal mechanism to give compensation to workers in the event of workplace accidents, experts of the International Labour Organisation said on Saturday.
ILO experts gave the opinion at a stakeholders’ workshop on its initiative to introduce the programme in the RMG sector in Bangladesh at Spectra Convention Centre in the capital.
ILO experts said that the employment injury scheme would be established with contributions from employers and would be managed by an autonomous body attached to the labour ministry. The body will comprise representatives of government, workers and employers, they said.
They said that setting up the scheme would modernise the Bangladesh social protection system and bring it more close to the level of those countries where such insurance exists.
Labour ministry officials and workers’ representatives, however, said that buyers and brands would have to be brought on one platform in terms of payment of the premiums to establish the scheme.
Labour secretary Mikail Shipar said that the government was committed to ensure safe and sound workplace for the workers and today’s (Saturday’s) seminar reminded the government about the improvement of workplace safety.
Requesting buyers, brands and employers to come forward to formulate the scheme he said that the government would give all-out support to establish the programme in the RMG sector.
The labour secretary also said that after one year of the announcement of the new wage structure for the garment workers many factories were yet to comply with the wage board.
‘I request employers to protect the rights of workers. If you (employers) agree, we can start employment injury insurance scheme,’ Shipar said.
‘Employment injury insurance scheme will spread the risks arising from accidents across all RMG enterprises and everyone could be protected for less than Tk 3 a work-day a worker,’ said Anne Drouin, chief of the ILO social protection department.
The scheme for the RMG sector is the most cost effective and socially responsible way to enhance Bangladesh’s reputation, she said.
‘This is a sound investment for the RMG sector that will help attract further buyers,’ Anne said.
ILO country director Srinivas Reddy said that establishment of the EII scheme for the RMG sector would send a strong signal to brands and buyers that workers were being taken care of and that labour rights in Bangladesh were being taken seriously.
He said that Bangladesh needed a national EII scheme to provide reliable, low-cost and no-fault accident compensation insurance for workers.
Such scheme will be less costly to employers than private insurance and will deliver better protection to ensure that no worker is left behind, Reddy said.
Gilles Binet, senior actuarial adviser of the ILO, said that development of a national EII scheme for Bangladesh would require active participation of the government, employers and workers.
In the first instance, ILO and various development partners are planning to work in collaboration with the government of Bangladesh and social partners to complete a feasibility study that could serve to develop the autonomous institution to operate the scheme under the government supervision, he said.
Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, said that bringing buyers and brands on board in terms of payment of premium was needed to establish an employment injury insurance scheme.
National Coordination Committee for Workers Education chairman Abdul Mukit Khan said that insurance was the rights of workers and responsibility of employers.
He urged the government to ensure the lawful rights of the workers.
-With New Age input