Construction sector needs to be brought under legal framework

Staff Correspondent

Human rights campaigners, trade union leaders and researchers on Thursday called upon the authorities concerned to bring the construction sector under legal framework to ensure rights of the thousands of construction workers who were engaged in the risky jobs.
They said that constriction workers should be brought under registration, given training and issued formal appointment letters ahead of recruitment to the construction sites so that they could demand and realise their rights properly.
They also stressed on strengthening labour organisations, and enhancing monitoring and inspections by the government authorities on the construction sites to remove malpractices in the sector.
They made their remarks and observations while speaking at a dissemination workshop on ‘Recruitment of Internal Migrants Construction Workers in Bangladesh’ at CIRDAP auditorium.
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) at the University of Dhaka and Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies jointly organised the workshop.
The workshop was held under the study on recruitment of internal migrant construction workers in Bangladesh which was conducted by RMMRU under the auspices of Migrating out of Poverty consortium, University of Sussex, UK, and supported by UK Aid.
The research team members are CR Abrar, Mirza Taslima Sultana, Kazi Nurmohammad Hossainul Huq, Priya Desingkar and Md Selim Reza. The field work was conducted at Dhaka and Chapainawabganj during May-July 2015.
This qualitative study was a follow-up of a previous RMMRU-RPC study conducted in 2012 that covered 150 construction workers in Dhaka and 160 internal migrant and non-migrant households in Chapainawabganj and Chandpur.
Dhaka University professor and RMMRU coordinator CR Abrar made a presentation at the workshop.
The principal objective of the study was to understand the dynamics of recruitment process of construction workers in Bangladesh, why the employers prefer to engage intermediaries in recruitment of workers and why the migrant workers utilize the services of intermediaries to access employment.
Presiding over the workshop, noted human rights activist and academic Hameeda Hossain said that huge numbers of internal migrant workers were now getting employed in the construction and shipbuilding sectors in Bangladesh.
‘No rule is being followed in the process of their recruitment. This sector should be brought under legal framework,’ she said.
Public health activist and freedom fighter Zafrullah Chowdhury said that the government has no interest to ensure workplace safety and job security to the construction workers.
Construction workers should have access to healthcare facilities suitable for them,  he said, adding that the government should ensure their ‘fair rights’ to get compensation in accidents or deaths.
Advocate Jafar Uddin Sharif said that as per law of the land construction sector is one of the formal sectors in Bangladesh.
The issues of construction workers could be monitored by government’s department, he said, adding that before appointment, the workers should be registered with labour inspection department.
BILS assistant executive director Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed said that construction sector is one of the risky areas and it should be ensured that workers get appointment letters before joining the workplace.
The workers are denied appointment letters due to unclear recruitment process in this sector, he said.
Executive director at Mir Akhter Hossain Limited, a construction company, Momtazul Karim Khan said that concerned government authorities should emphasize on providing skills training to the construction workers.
Trade union leaders Mahbub Alam and Saiful Saki and Selim Reza from RMMRU also spoke at the workshop.

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