Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun yesterday said that industry owners of the county mostly focus on profit-making -- often lacking moral values.
“They try to find scopes to avoid what the workers are entitled to. I have experience in this regard…I personally saw people [workers] face these [exploitation],” said Nurul.
However, the government will work as a pressure group to ensure the rights of workers, he added.
The minister made the remarks while speaking at a dialogue on “Women's safety in workplace”, jointly organised by Care Bangladesh and Unnayan Shamannay, a non-government organisation, at Bishwo Shahitto Kendro in the capital.
Several members of the parliament, labour leaders and NGOs officials participated in the dialogue.
“A lot of time has passed and many discussions [on ensuring labour rights] have been held. We want action now,” said Nurul.
“I know them [the industry owners]… I know from where they got money, how much they embezzled from which bank... I can identify them individually right now,” he claimed.
The minister also urged the workers to consider the situation of the industry owners, and not be instigated by conspirators.
“Do not block roads, observing random strikes… We'll solve issues together through discussion,” he said.
About prevention of violence against women in workplace, Nurul said such violence “is a result of mental illness” that need to be addressed immediately.
“We have to learn to respect women at home, because all of us have female family members,” he said.
Lawmaker Shirin Akhter said violence against women in workplace, particularly sexual harassment, must be rooted out to ensure women's empowerment.
She urged people, especially employers and male colleagues, to change their mindset towards women.
Noted labour leader Abul Hossain demanded that the government focus on all sectors, not just readymade garments, to prevent workplace violence.
Unnayan Shamannay Chairperson Dr Atiur Rahman, lawmakers Fazle Hossain Badsha and Aroma Dutta, and Care Bangladesh Country Director Zia Choudhury, among others, spoke at the programme.