A total of 181 incidents of labour unrest took place in the country’s industrial sectors in 2017 while the highest number of unrest was over arrear wages of workers in the year, found a recent survey of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies.
The report titled ‘Labour Situation-2017’, released on Monday, showed that 59 per cent of the total unrest took place in the readymade garment sector followed by 23 per cent in transport sector.
According to the report, arrear wages caused 56 unrests in the industrial sectors while 35 took place over several rights of workers.
The report showed that other unrests took place centring overtime, compensation, illegal closure of factory and workers termination.
Out of total 181, highest 91 unrest incidents took place in RMG sector followed by 36 in transport sector 36 and 7 in bidi industry.
Workers staged 68 demonstrations, formed 21 human chains, observed 18 strikes, 15 road blockades and 12 rallies to realise their demands in the industrial sectors.
The BILS survey also found that some 784 workers including 21 females died in workplace accidents with highest 307 in transport sector.
The report shows that 134 workers in construction sector, 59 day labourers, 36 agricultural workers, 24 electricians, 21 ship-breaking workers, 22 boulder field workers, 25 rice mill workers, 17 fishing workers and 17 garment workers died in the year.
According to the report, of the 784 deceased workers, 64 per cent died in road accident, 19 per cent in electrocution, 9 per cent falling from high, four per cent in fire and four per cent in landslide.
In the year, the major workplace accidents were boiler blast at Multifabs Ltd, a garment company, in Gazipur and Jamuna Auto rice Mills in Dinajpur that killed 13 workers and 18 workers respectively.
The survey shows that workers of most of the industrial sectors are receiving minimum wages much lower than the lowest grade of the government pay scale.
It shows that the minimum wages of hotel and restaurant sector workers (Tk 3,710) is 75 per cent lower than the amount of lowest grade of the government pay scale (Tk 15,250).
The report found that the minimum wages of hosiery industry workers is 70 per cent lower than the government pay scale while that of the tailoring sector workers 68 per cent, sop and cosmetics industry workers 63 per cent, tea packaging workers 54 per cent, pharmaceuticals sector workers 47 per cent and tannery industry workers 16 per cent lower than the government pay scale.
Despite a provision in Bangladesh Labour Act to review wages of industrial sectors every five years, the workers’ wages of 21 sectors were not reviewed for more than five years, the survey found.
It also says that the wages of type foundry sector workers and petrol pump workers were not reviewed since 1983 and 1987 respectively.