The long-awaited Employment Injury Scheme (EIS) was launched in the country’s readymade garment sector on Tuesday aimed at protecting workers effectively against falling into poverty due to workplace accidents and occupational diseases.
Workers in the export-oriented RMG sector are set to get enhanced social security through income protection following the launch of the new scheme jointly by labour ministry, International Labour Organization (ILO) initiative in collaboration with the Netherlands and Germany (GIZ).
Prime minister's private industry and investment adviser Salman F Rahman inaugurated the pilot project in an event held at Hotel Intercontinental in the city.
Secretary of Labour Ministry Md Ehsan-E- Elahi, Bangladesh Country Director of ILO Tuomo Poutiainen, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Faruque Hassan and labour leaders were present at the ceremony.
In his speech, Tuomo Poutiainen said the launch of ‘Employment Injury Protection’ scheme for RMG workers in Bangladesh is an important and historic step in strengthening accident protection in the country.
Such a system would promote sustainable business practices and provide the right kind of signals to investors; as Bangladesh is step by step upgrading its social protection systems for the benefit of all, he said.
In the event, Salman F Rahman said that social security was high on the agenda of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
It is a historical day for as we launch the first-ever social insurance scheme, as envisioned in the ‘National Social Security Strategy’, labour secretary said.
"We have the privilege to ensure that the pilot is designed in line with the ‘International Labour Standards’, taking the national settings into consideration,” he said.
This pilot programme has the potential to be a win-win situation, as social protection and sector competitiveness go hand in hand. The Netherlands looks forward to working with all the relevant stakeholders to make the Pilot a success, said Bas Blaauw, First Secretary, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands.
The EIS Pilot can rightly be considered the peak of this reform process, the industry has been undergoing, said Johannes Schneider, head of Development Cooperation from the German Embassy.
"With the addition of the Pilot, we now have, for the first time, an employment injury scheme that meets international standards in terms of compensation and that effectively protects workers and their families from falling into poverty as a result of workplace accidents and occupational diseases," he noted.
The pilot of the employment injury scheme will contribute to the social well-being of workers and employers and above all improvement of the country's social security system, said BGMEA president.
Employment injury protection is one of the nine branches of social protection recognised by ILO for all workers under its Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102).
Bangladesh has already taken this issue as a priority and highlighted the same in the 2nd Phase Action Plan of the National Social Security Strategy.
Keeping in mind that workers in the readymade garments industry play a remarkable role in the country’s growing GDP, it is important to consider their rights and security on priority.
This facility will be expanded to other economic sectors upon success of the EIS-Pilot.
Since 2013, ILO and GIZ have been working together with the government of Bangladesh and industry partners for ensuring workers’ social and financial security.
As a continuation of the process, after having several tripartite consultations, the government has decided to introduce a periodic payment scheme for occupational injuries, disabilities and deaths in the RMG industry.