Bangladesh should set a stipulated time to ratify the ILO Convention 190 to rid the workplace of harassment and violence, speakers said during a webinar on Wednesday.
They suggested that the government consult employers, workers and civil society for the endorsement.
Excepting sectors like ready-made garment and pharmaceuticals, they said, some industries in both formal and informal sectors need further improvement in workplace conditions before ratifying the convention.
The observations came at a virtual event styled 'Workplace Harassment and ILO Convention 190' co-hosted by Unnayan Shamannay (UnSy) and CARE Bangladesh.
UnSy chairperson and former central bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman presided over the programme.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Faruque Hassan, Bangladesh Employers' Federation secretary general Farooq Ahmed, former Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Fazlul Haque and CARE Bangladesh director (women and girls empowerment) Humaira Aziz, among others, spoke.
In a presentation, Ms Aziz said around 61.7-per cent women workers experienced harassment of different types at workplace of which sexual harassment by male workers is most common.
About 20-per cent women workers left or switched jobs due to the management's unfavourable behaviour about the incidents of sexual harassment, she added.
Citing a survey by the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), she said at least 232 workers were tortured at workplace in both formal and informal sectors in 2020.
For lack of workplace safety, at least 90 workers died and 120 others were injured in various accidents at workplace in the same year.
Bangladesh has so far ratified 33 ILO conventions, including seven fundamental conventions, as per the ILO Declaration, Ms Aziz mentioned.
To ratify the convention, Bangladesh needs to amend and include some provisions in the existing labour and workplace safety-related laws and rules.
Mr Hassan said, "Whenever a labour-related law or rule or convention are discussed, the RMG sector has become the common target for criticism."
"Garment industry is the most advance among all sectors in Bangladesh. So, when we talk about ratifying the ILO Convention 190, we should focus on other industries that need further improvement in work conditions."
Dr Atiur said opinion from stakeholders should be taken to create a roadmap to set a time to ratify the ILO Convention 190 within and to begin its implementation.
Before ratification, he said, the sectors requiring improvement in workplace safety should be made aware of their condition and position in global competition.
"Certainly, in this process, we must always remember our local socio-cultural and economic reality in the time of keeping pace with the world market," the former governor concluded.