Speakers at a meeting recommended five points for the development of fair industrial relations in the country’s leather industry.
Known as the second largest export earning sector, the government has a target of earning 10 billion Dollars from this sector by 2030, they said, stressing on maintaining fair industrial relations for achieving success in the sector.
Tannery Workers Union and Solidarity Center-Bangladesh office jointly organized the industrial relations stakeholders’ meeting.
AKM Nasim, country program director of Solidarity Center-Bangladesh (SC-B) office, chaired the event while Abul Kalam Azad, president of Tannery Workers Union, conducted it.
Mohammad Nazrul Islam, program officer of SC-B, presented the concept paper at the meeting at a hotel in the capital on Wednesday evening.
The recommendations made in the concept paper are: Formulating a comprehensive strategy paper for the implementation of health and safety of workers and social compliance with the participation of employers, workers and all concerned; ensuring prompt cooperation of the Directorate of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE); establishing a permanent medical center or hospital in the leather industrial estate.
It also include arranging accommodations for workers at leather industry estate, forming an effective factory-based safety committee and working to improve the health and safety situation of all concerned; and taking rational decisions after consulting with the workers, owners and all parties concerned regarding shutting down of leather factories in order to protect the industry and workers.
Abdul Malek, general secretary of Tannery Workers Union (TWU), Director of Bangladesh Institute of Leather Engineering and Technology of Dhaka University Mizanur Rahman, Bangladesh Labor Foundation (BLF) Secretary General ZM Kamrul Anam, Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leathergoods and Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA) Chairman Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin and Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) Chairman Shaheen Ahmed were present at the event.
In his welcome speech, Abdul Malek said, “Leather industry is the country’s second largest revenue generating sector. Still, neither workers nor owners of this sector are having good times. To change the situation, all parties should come forward.”
Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin said, "Leather industry can be the largest employment sector in the country if the government's policy supports it. That is why the government should help the industrialists to overcome the current problems. To ensure the employment of workers and to protect the leather industry, entrepreneurs must be saved first.” Mizanur Rahman said, "Entrepreneurs are the driving force of the country's economy. They must conduct business in compliance with all regulations, including labor rights, and be proactive in negotiating with the government to ensure the development of the industry. Development agencies must also come forward to stand by the industry and the workers.”
ZM Kamrul Anam said, "In order to protect the leather industry and workers, the government, owners and all the parties concerned must work sincerely to implement the Action Plan adopted under the leadership of the Ministry of Labor and Employment."
Shaheen Ahmed said, “Factory owners must realize workers’ rights. If you (owners) want to ensure compliances at your factory, there is no other way.”
AKM Nasim said, “We should never forget that we are nobody to deny workers’ rights. It is a good thing the owners are not in a denial mode now. It is obvious that to sustain the industry, we must take care of the workers.”