Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday urged the labour leaders not to make any complaint to foreigners against the country.
“As long as Awami League or I am in power, we can assure that we can solve the problem if any here,” she said, criticizing a section of labour leaders who take their problems to foreigners.
The prime minister was addressing a function marking the historic May Day from her official residence Ganobhaban through a videoconference.
The Labour and Employment Ministry arranged the function at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre here.
Hasina said her government has done a lot for the welfare of the workers. Even then there are some labour leaders who like to make complaints whenever they see any foreigner.
The PM said she doesn’t know the reason for this mental poverty or whether the interest of any other is involved here.
“We’ll be able to solve our own problems in the country. I would like to tell the labour leaders don’t cry before the foreigners, rather come to me if you have any problem. If there is anything (benefit) that needs to be materialized from the owners, it is me who can do it,” she said.
The premier said she believes that the problem can be solved through negotiations between the owners and the workers.
Today’s Bangladesh has attained food autarky and can implement 90 per cent of Annual Development Programme (ADP) with its own funds, which is a huge departure from total dependence on foreign assistance in the past.
“Why will we complain to others about our own country? We don’t want it. Bangladesh will move with self-dignity,” said the PM.
She stressed the need for maintaining a cordial relation between the industrial owners and the workers for the sake of development.
Provide money to labour welfare fund properly: PM to the owners
Noting that her government formed the fund of Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation, the prime minister said it is very unfortunate that many owners have yet to contribute their share to the fund.
“I think it should be given properly. Because, when anyone falls in trouble, you have to stand beside the person,” she said, adding that it can’t be right that “you reap the benefits of their labour, but you won’t stand beside them in their bad days.”
Hasina asked the owners and all others concerned to take care of the fund issue.
She said her government increased the minimum monthly wage for a worker in the RMG and other sectors from Tk 1,600 to Tk 8,000 in three phases since coming to power in 2009.
The PM questioned how many times the wage had been enhanced in the 21 years after 1975. “We always are sincere to ensure a safe work environment, welfare for the workers and social safety for them,” she added.
She said there was no scope for formation of trade unions under the EPZ law. Since the investors used to show reluctance to make investment in case of having rights of trade union, her government formulated the law with a provision for the labour welfare organisation, changing the name of trade union, she said.
Under the provision of the labour welfare organisation, now the workers can enjoy the trade union-like right there. “We ensured the system just by changing the name,” said Hasina.
She said the government has taken measures to eliminate the child labour from the country. Bangladesh has gained tremendous success in eliminating the use of children in hazardous jobs, she added.
Hasina said Bangladesh signed 36 conventions and protocols of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and she doesn’t know if any other country has done so much.
She said none is more conscious about labour rights other than Awami League or AL government.
Presided over by State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian, the function was addressed by Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and Employment Ministry Mujibul Haque, Labour and Employment Secretary Ehsan-E-Elahi, ILO Country Director in Bangladesh Tuomo Poutiainen, President of Bangladesh Employers’ Federation Ardashir Kabir and acting president of Jatiya Sramik League Nur Kutub Alam Mannan.
On behalf of the PM, Monnujan handed the cheques of financial assistance to the families of 10 workers.
The May Day, also known as the International Workers' Solidarity Day, is observed across the world on May 01 every year, commemorating the historic uprising of working people in the US city of Chicago at the height of a prolonged fight for an eight-hour workday in the late nineteenth century.