Retrenched workers yet to get govt allowance in absence of beneficiary list | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 15, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:14 AM, October 15, 2020

Retrenched workers yet to get govt allowance in absence of beneficiary list

The disbursement of allowances for retrenched workers in the export-oriented garment, leather and footwear sectors will begin once the associations concerned provide the list of employees, according to a senior official of the finance ministry.

In the meantime, the financial aid meant for workers that have been made redundant by the Covid-19 fallout will continue to remain idle, he said.

The government aims to disburse Tk 3,000 per month for a three-month period to about 10 lakh workers over the next two fiscal years, according to last week's circular from the labour and employment ministry.

Beneficiaries will receive the funds directly through their mobile financial service accounts.

Any worker, including lactating mothers, who were employed in any active member factory of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) and Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BFLLFEA) up till February this year will be eligible to receive money from this fund, the circular said.

The authorities concerned can begin disbursing funds from next month onwards, the ministry official added. However, a list of retrenched workers is yet to be submitted to the labour ministry due to various complications, according to the association leaders.

"Since the coronavirus outbreak reached its peak in April-May, it was assumed that many people had returned to work by now," said BGMEA President Rubana Huq.

Still though, factories can submit a list in a structured Management Information System format to the BGMEA, which can then be forwarded to the labour ministry and Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment (DIFE).

"We are also asking all BGMEA members to update their list of workers currently working in each factory," she added.

Meanwhile, LFMEAB President Saiful Islam said his association is preparing a list of retrenched workers in the leather sector.

"We will send the list to the ministry concerned as soon as we receive a letter from the Department of Labour in this regard," he said.

Nazma Akter, president of the Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, a platform for workers' rights in the garment sector, said although the EU and German government committed to this fund far earlier, the money is yet to be disbursed due to bureaucratic red-tape.

"Many workers lost their jobs in April, May and June, however, most of them have already been re-employed by the factories because of a rebound in incoming work orders from international retailers and brands," said Akter.

But even though it would be difficult to make authentic lists of retrenched workers in these sectors, the initiative is good for the workers as they will get financial benefits during this time of hardship.

"Maintaining full transparency is very important so that any authentic retrenched worker is not deprived of the financial benefit," Akter told The Daily Star over phone.

The government will make disbursements from its own fund, grants from the EU and from the German government for fiscals 2020-21 and 2021-22, it added.

The government might extend this service for social safety net purposes beyond this time limit if it is noticed that the workers could not return to their jobs and on the basis of the availability of funds from the government exchequer and from donor agencies.

So, the government also called for increased donations to the fund from the donor agencies.

Many workers lost their jobs because of the two-month nationwide shutdown in March-May or were laid-off for a lack of work orders from international retailers and brands due to the Covid-19 fallout, which has severely jolted the global economy.

Millions of workers at corporate, mills and factories lost their jobs because of the pandemic and neither the country's workers, exports, imports nor corporations were immune to the economic fallouts.

As a result, a good number of workers lost their jobs. Of those recently unemployed, some may get jobs in another factory but not at substantial rates, according to industry insiders.

However, many workers who could not complete a one-year tenure in their position will still be allowed to avail the fund.

Director General of the Department of Labour will lead disbursements from the fund while senior officials from the DIFE, labour and employment ministry, BGMEA, BKMEA, LFMEAB, BFLLFEA and EU will act as members and provide assistance as needed, the circular said. 

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