Tannery Workers Union (TWU), an association of tannery workers, has demanded formulation of a new wage board for them to fix minimum wages of Taka 2500 and ensure their job security.
"The government, after the consultation with the tannery owners, formed a wage board nearly five years ago but its recommendations were not executed so far... So, the formation of a new wage board is the demand of time," TWU president Abul Kalam Azad told a "consultation meeting" with journalists at Bangladesh Press Council at Segun Bagicha on Wednesday.
He expressed grave concern that the recommendations of the 2018 wage board that fixed the minimum wages of the tannery workers at Taka 13, 000 were not implemented properly.
He said the workers are facing a tough time after shifting of the tanneries from Hazaribag to Savar.
Solidarity Center-Bangladesh Office organized the 'Consultation meeting of Tannery Workers Union with Bangladesh Labour Rights Journalists Forum (BLRJF)' with BLRJF president Kazi Abdul Hannan in chair.
"To achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 with the target of 10 billion US dollars export income from the leather industry, the second largest export-earning industry, owners and tannery workers must work together," TWU General Secretary Abdul Malek said.
He placed a charter of demands regarding the rights of workers in the tannery industry in line with the existing labour law of the country.
Noting that the country's leather industry is now facing a threat due to lack of proper strategic plan and producing quality products in the competitive world, he also put emphasis on ensuring social compliance in the leather industry and to take pragmatic steps to regain its lost image.
Trade Union Kendra General Secretary Dr Wajedul Islam Khan, BLRJF General Secretary Md Ataur Rahman, Vice-president Mujibur Rahman and Joint Secretary Alamgir Hossain, Treasurer Al Mamun and Training & Research Secretary Sahidul Islam Rana, among others, took part in the discussion.
The labour union leaders requested the authorities concerned to set-up a 50-bed hospital for tannery workers and others concerned, ensure social compliance including full implementation of maternity welfare facilities, full implementation of waste management and CETP to build an eco-friendly and modern leather city, and move towards achieving the Leather Working Group (LWG) certificate.
They called for implementing a wage board for the tannery workers by 2024 in line with the minimum wage structure announced by the government in every factory and stop terminating the skilled and experienced workers in the interest of the leather industry.
Bangladesh leather industry is ranked second in terms of export earnings, where over five lakh workers work in about 206 tanneries countrywide. Because of its high value addition, huge growth and employment opportunities, leather sector has already been declared a top priority sector.
Bangladesh accounts for 3 percent share in the global leather and products market. The GDP growth at over 5 percent over the last decade shows the strength of the economy and its resilience, according to an official report.