Bangladesh government launches first employment injury scheme pilot in the garment sector
The Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh is celebrating the establishment of the country's first ever pilot of a social security scheme working on income protection and medical care for work-related injuries. The launch of the pilot of an Employment Injury Scheme (EIS) in Dhaka was chaired by Mr Md Ehsan-E-Elahi, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE).
Chief guest H.E. Salman F Rahman, MP, Advisor to Hon’ble Prime Minister; special guest H.E. Begum Monnujan Sufian, MP, State Minister, MoLE; Mr Johannes Schneider, Head of Development Cooperation, German Embassy Dhaka and Mr Bas Blaauw, First Secretary, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands Dhaka attended the event as speakers, alsongside representatives of the ILO Geneva and ILO Bangladesh. Further, workers’ representatives (Mr Rashadul Alam Raju, Secretary General, IBC, Ms Shameem Ara, Chairman, NCCWE and Mr Nur Kutub Alam Mannan, President, JSL) and employers’ representatives (Mr Fazle Shamim Ehsan, Vice President, BKMEA, Mr Faruque Hassan, President, BGMEA and Mr Ardashir Kabir, President, BEF) offered their valuable remarks.
The EIS covers all ready-made garment (RMG) workers. It will compensate injured workers and dependants in case of accidents which lead to permanent disability or death in line with the requirements of ILO Employment Injury Protection Convention, 1964 (No. 121). As such, it is a milestone towards establishing decent work and economic growth in the country.
A tripartite committee, established by the Government of Bangladesh, oversees the task of piloting the EIS. It is comprised of representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, employers’ associations (Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Organisation (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters (BKMEA)) as well as workers’ representation (IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education (NCCWE) and Jatiya Sramik League (JSL)). This mechanism strengthens national governance structures and ownership. The members of the committee agreed upon the main elements of the pilot which is conceptualised towards the introduction of a permanent statuary EIS.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) (with financial contribution of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH – the latter on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development – supported in conceptualising the pilot design and welcomed brands willing to participate. Moreover, these international partners facilitated the discussions amongst the tripartite constituents as honest brokers. Ultimately, in early 2022, the national stakeholders endorsed the pilot.
We applaud seven brands – among which are Bestseller, Fast Retailing, the H&M Group, KiK Textilien und Non-Food GmbH, Primark and Tchibo – which have already signed pledges as commitments for voluntary financial contributions, as the forerunners for effective protection against work-related accidents in Bangladesh.
Moving forward, the two components of the pilot will be set into action:
- Data gathering and capacity-building on occupational accidents, diseases and rehabilitation, based on a sample of representative factories: Research will be carried out on the average medical costs for a worker in case of injury. This will help identify the resources necessary to ensure that medical care as described in the Bangladesh Labour Act is effectively met. The research will extend to the process adhered to and the benefits provided in case of temporary incapacity. This will demonstrate the viability, feasibility and cost efficiency of an EIS in Bangladesh, ensuring affordability of employers' contributions by testing the impact of a sharing of responsibility approach. Approximately, 150 factories will be participating in generating the evidence needed for a long-term solution.
- Risk-sharing for long-term benefits: payment of compensations in case of permanent disability or death for the entire RMG sector that are line with international labour standards: In this component, the pilot provides income replacements for the permanently disabled and the dependents of deceased workers, covering the entire RMG sector. This takes the form of periodical payments as top-ups for the already existing lump-sum payments of the Central Fund, rendering the level of benefits compatible with the ILO Convention No. 121. These top-up payments will be financed by voluntary contributions of international brands and retailers. In doing so, they are stimulating further the transformation towards a comprehensive employment injury insurance scheme and supporting the primary efforts of government authorities. This is in line with the ILO MNE Declaration, which encourages enterprises to complement public social security systems and help to stimulate further their development, including through their own employer-sponsored programmes.