The International Labour Organisation and the government are set to launch an employment injury insurance (EII) scheme on a pilot basis with the aim of protecting the rights of workers.
“The pilot can be launched very promptly and it might be less than one year,” Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of the ILO, at a discussion styled “Improvements in Factory Safety Measures Post Rana Plaza Tragedy” at the EMK Centre in Dhaka.
The EMK Centre in partnership with the Dhaka Tribune organised the discussion on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, the nation’s deadliest industrial accident that killed 1,136 workers and injured more than 2,500.
The EII can be started from the garment sector and later expanded to other industries as well.
Normally, the EII premium is co-shared by owners and the government, according to Poutiainen.
The workers would benefit from the EII in three ways: protection from injuries, compensation based on future earnings loss, and if the workers want they can rejoin their job, Poutiainen said.
“Works should be respected. The purchasing practices should also be changed. Workers are resources. We also need to talk about the working conditions,” said Nazma Akter, president of the Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, a garment sector rights group.
There has to be a way to better monitor the progress made by the garment sector since the Rana Plaza building collapse, said Mousumi M Khan, chief executive director of Nirapon, a safety provider in the garment sector.
The huge gap between the factory owners and workers should be reduced, she said, while calling for training of workers and security guards.
In case of accidents, the security guards tend to protect the assets of factories but not the workers.
“It is because the security guards have been trained to protect the assets not the lives of workers,” she added.
The living standards of garment workers did not improve much after the Rana Plaza tragedy, said Sirajul Islam Rony, a former member of the minimum wage board in the garment sector.
Zafar Sobhan, editor of the Dhaka Tribune, moderated the discussion, which was attended by union leaders, garment exporters, journalists, rights activists, diplomats, and ILO higher ups.