Call to bring Bangladesh’s domestic workers under labour law

FE Online Report | Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Speakers at a view exchange meeting on Wednesday called for brining domestic workers under the country’s labour law to ensure their rights and benefits.

They also suggested updating the ‘Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy-2015’ and taking the necessary steps to implement it.

Besides, they sought ratification of ILO-189 to ensure decent work for the domestic workers.  

Civil society, domestic workers joined the meeting titled ‘Rights and Wellbeing of Domestic Workers in Bangladesh: Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges for Policy Implementation’ held at CIRDAP Auditorium in the city.

Oxfam Bangladesh organised the meeting.

Referring to the Labour Force Survey data (2016-17), the meeting showed that about 1.69 million people in the country are domestic workers, of which 90 per cent are women.

These workers have not been brought under the country’s existing labour law. For this reason, there is no official monitoring system to ensure their protection and work environment.

Besides, the contribution of domestic workers is not recognised in the formal economy.

Quoting a Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) survey, the meeting showed that in the last 10 years at least 591 domestic workers were killed and wounded in the country owing to torture brought about by their employers.

Of the total number of workers, 298 were killed while 12 committed suicide because of maltreatment by their employers.

Two domestic workers went missing. On the other hand, 279 domestic workers were injured following tortures during the afor period. 

A survey by Oxfam and Nari Maitree found that 83 domestic workers lost jobs in the Covid-19 pandemic. They could not find alternative jobs during the period.

Of the total 83 surveyed workers, 47 said they faced a severe food crisis after losing jobs.

Oxfam in collaboration with six organisations has been executing a project named ‘Securing Rights of Women Domestic Workers in Bangladesh’ since 2019.

At least 16,000 domestic workers will get training and awareness building counselling to improve their lives as a whole.

M Abdus Salam, secretary of Ministry of Labour and Employment, attended the programme as the chief guest while Rasheda K. Chowdhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) was present as the special guest,

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