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04 October 2022

Business Insider Bangladesh

Cutting maternity leave for seamstresses contradicts labour law: Speakers

BI Report || BusinessInsider

Published: 19:53, 21 September 2022   Update: 19:55, 21 September 2022
Cutting maternity leave for seamstresses contradicts labour law: Speakers

Photo: Collected

Shortening maternity leave for the seamstresses would curtail their due benefits incorporated in the annexed provisions of the Bangladesh Labour Rules, speakers said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a roundtable, lawyers, labour rights activists and the trade union leaders expressed their grave concern over lessening of maternity benefits to the women workers as the decision would look discriminatory comparing maternity leave provided by other sectors.

They made the remarks at the stakeholders’ meeting on the amendment to Bangladesh Labour Rules 2015, organised by the Solidarity Centre-Bangladesh office at a hotel in the city.

Presiding over the meeting, Country Programme Director-Bangladesh of Solidarity Centre AKM Nasim said that contribution of all stakeholders has enriched the discussion.

“We had a gap analysis discussion…we mainly emphasised on the protections of the workers’ interest,” he said, adding that if the workers’ rights were protected the industry would be benefitted.

Nasim said the maternity benefits along with other allowances would be affected with implementation of the labour rules which were adopted after many days into the enactment of the labour law.

Speaking as a panellist, Fauzia Karim Firoze, president of the Foundation for Law and Development, said, instead of protecting the existing law, this amendment has actually curtailed the facilities mentioned in the law.

She noted that the maternity leave has been reduced to 112 days from the earlier entitlement of six months (180 days) although the women folks are bound to do the hard work from morning to night.

Awaj Foundation executive director Nazma Akter said all apparel workers should be entitled to get compensation from a central fund if they become victims of death at the workplace even on the first day of their joining. She criticised the current entitlement that said job duration should be at least nine months to receive such entitlement.

She said situations in the apparel sector have upgraded at the cost of lives of hundreds of workers. Nazma urged the factory management to give up such an attitude of denying workers’ rights.

Other stakeholders said instead of including provisions that facilitate workers’ welfare, the amendment to the Bangladesh Labour Rules 2015 incorporated rules that are conflicting in nature with the existing labour law and will create further complications in the future.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment, through a gazette notification on September 1, amended the Bangladesh Labour Rules 2015 and brought 101 amendments and additions.

They said though there were some positive inclusions in the amendment, many remained unclear and contradictory.

Meanwhile, there was an opportunity to simplify the trade union registration process by adding provisions to the rules, but it was not done. Besides, no provision was added to speed up the proceedings of the Labour Court.

Panellist Ahsan Habib Bulbul, general secretary of Samajtantrik Sramik Front, said, “This amendment does not reflect interests and demands of the workers. Many recommendations, jointly made by workers and employers, were not taken into account.”

Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies Director Nazma Yasmin said, “During the night shift at the medical room in a workplace, a diploma-certified doctor is directed to be on duty. Most of the people get sick at night. And it is very difficult to find hospitals and specialist doctors at night.”

Monika Hartsel, deputy country program director of Solidarity Centre-Bangladesh office, gave her opening speech at the event.


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