Safety and Rights Society (SRS)
On November 2014, SRS celebrated its five years of functioning in seeking to improve workplace health and safety situation in Bangladesh. In this time it has helped more than hundred families to realise financial compensation from the employers, and has undertaken research and produced reports to help increase awareness of the problems of safety in the country, the inadequacies in the systems of compensation and accountability and what changes are required. In addition, it has been endeavouring to change the attitude of employers in favour of decent workplace and at the same time, it has been undertaking activities for improving workers knowledge and skills on workplace health and safety.
Nowadays, workplace health and safety is a very common subject for employers, workers, government and civil society organisations. SRS can take pride in being involved in the process of developing workplace health and safety conditions in Bangladesh.
2. Projects implemented in 20132.1. Title: Assistance for Rana Plaza victims Project Period: Not applicable Reporting Period: January – December of 2014 Development partner: Jamil Sarwar Trust Geographical location: Savar, Dhaka Total Budget: BDT-100,000/- Budget for 2014: 00
Total Expenditure: BDT- 41,215/- Rights holders: Victims of Rana Plaza disaster Present Status: Supporting the victims when needed
Project Period: Ten Months (01 February 2014 to 30 November 2014)
Development partner: Social Science Research Council of Planning Division of Planning Ministry
Geographical location: All over Bangladesh
Total Budget for 2014: BDT- 400,000/-
Total Expenditure: BDT – 330,700/-
Beneficiaries: Victims of workplace accidents and their families
Present Status: Ended on 30 November 2014
2.2. Title: Research on “ Measuring Socio-Economic Impact of Workplace Serious Injuries in Bangladesh”
Project Period: Three years (01 January 2013 to 31 December 2015)
Reporting period: January – December of 2014
Development partner: Diakonia
Geographical location: All over Bangladesh
Total Budget for 2014: BDT- 3,328,107/-
Total Expenditure: BDT – 3,125,685/- that was about 95% of the budget
Beneficiaries: Victims of workplace accidents, construction workers and employers and workers in general
Present Status: On going
2.3. Title: Workplace Safety, Compensation and Accountability
3. Brief of the achievements of each project
3.1 Assistance for Rana Plaza victims: Supported by Jamil Sarwar Trust
3.1.1. Summary of the achievement
Through this project, SRS paid the cost for setting up a temporary shed for the claimants who appeared at Rana Plaza Claims Administration Office at Cantonment Board Office, Nobinagar, Savar for submitting their claims. In addition, SRS provided snacks for the claimants.
3.2 Measuring Socio-Economic Impact of Workplace Serious Injuries in Bangladesh
3.2.1. Summary of the achievement
The research was done on time and the draft report was submitted to the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) of Planning Division of the Planning Ministry. SRS has received BDT-200,000 out of BDT-400,000. The remaining amount will be received after the approval of the report by SSRC.
SRS had organised a seminar on 23 December 2014 where the summary of the research report was shared and there was significant media attention on the issue.
3.3. Workplace Safety, Compensation and Accountability: Supported by Diakonia
3.3.1. Summary of Major Impacts:
Nationally and internationally, SRS is recognised as a source of information for workplace manslaughter data. Media are more sensitised in publishing reports on workplace health and safety issues, which is supporting to increasing awareness among mass people. They rely on information of SRS.
Awareness on compensation rights among the injured workers and dependent families has increased.
Injured workers, their families and dependents – mostly the widows and children – are empowered. Many have conquered the fear in going to the labour court.
The involvement of DIFE in realising compensation in favour of workplace victims has increased.
Awareness on workplace health, safety and compensation among the mass people has increased.
Construction workers are aware about occupational health and safety, which will ultimately reduce the number of deaths due to workplace accident.
Number of trade union activists has increased that has strengthened the bargaining capacity of trade union. It has helped to establish the workers’ rights in informal sector like construction.
3.3.2. Summary of Major activities and outputs:
- information on workplace death and injury was collected by monitoring 26 newspapers (15 national and 11 local) and others sources. An analysis was done following collected information (report will be published soon).
- 282 investigations (183 injuries and 99 deaths) into workplace deaths/injuries throughout Bangladeshwas carried out.
- Legal review of 282 investigations into workplace deaths throughout Bangladesh was carried out of which 26 cases were selected for compensation.
- 26 petitions relating to seeking compensation for dependent families were drafted.32 cases (Dhaka-17, Rajshahi-7, Khulna-4 and Chittagong-4) were filed through BLAST before the labour court with relevant documents.7 cases were settled by Labour courts of which 3 families have received compensation, 2 cases are on the process of execution of decree and 2 cases were rejected due to non-appearance of petitioner.
- A list of 219-workplace incidents records by monitoring newspapers, was sent to DIFE (department of inspection for factories and establishments) based on which they have taken initiative to investigate those cases to see the breach of law and for ensuring compensation for the dependent families.
- 238 Stakeholders such as law enforcing agencies, ministries, government departments, employers, workers representatives, labour courts and workers were informed about the state of health, safety and compensation in Bangladesh. The chairman of Rajshahi Labour Court has appreciated of SRS’s intervention to ensure compensation rights.
- A training on construction health and safety was planed mainly for manager, supervisor, site engineer of 12 developer companies but failed to carry out.
- Through training following the developed manual, 152 construction workers (Male 112, Female 40) were aware about workplace health and safety in construction sector. They have learnt about the safety measures during work at height mainly in scaffold, work in the septic tank/water reservoir, electrical work and general housekeeping in workplace.
- Through training following the developed manual, 327 construction workers (Male 279, Female 48) were trained who were aware about Bangladesh Labour Act 2006. These 327 are well conversant about minimum wage, insurance facilities, formation of trade union, working hour, leave etc.
- A handbook on workers’ rights in light with Bangladesh Labour (Amendment in 2013) Act 2006 was published. Two Inspectors of DIFE (one retired) was involved in editing the handbook.
- Based on collected information by monitoring local and national newspapers, a report on workplace deaths and injuries was published. 500 copies was published and about 400 copies have been distributed among media, workers representative organisations, NGOs, employer organisations, labour rights activists and workers.
- CSR related reports published in newspapers in 2014 were kept, based on which a press clipping was prepared. It was distributed among NGOs, employers’ organisation and trade unions.
- More than 30 media representatives were sensitised on workplace deaths and injuries and compensation through a press conference. As a result, they have published news, articles on workers’ safety and compensation in the newspapers (printed and online) and in the televisions.
- Two construction unions and one national federation were sensitised through Networking Meeting about SRS’s intervention for ensuring workers health, safety and compensation. Moreover, about 45 member organisations of Sromik Nirapotta Forum were informed about SRS’s activities.
- All the staffs were trained on CRM and English Language that enhanced their knowledge and skills. SRS’s staffs also have received training on “Communication Materials Development”, “Mid Level Accounting”, and “Occupational Health and Safety” that helped to carry out project activities effectively. In addition, by attending different meetings, seminars, workshops organised by Diakonia and other NGOs helped of being sensitised on Gender issues that reflected to the communication and behavioural change of staffs.
Activities and achievement beyond the Project Plan
Hospital Research with BLAST: SRS was involved with BLAST for their research project “National Workable Framework Compensation for Workplace Deaths and Injuries in Bangladesh”. After being commissioned by BLAST, SRS have collected information on workplace injuries of 137 workers. This was based on different hospitals in Dhaka and Savar.
Visit Patgram of Lalmonirhat: In Patgram stone crushing workers are affected by a common occupational lung-disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust, called silicosis. One of the staffs of SRS went there on 27.11.2014 and met with some stone crushing workers and visited some factories. Stone crushing workers affected with silicosis are not capable to work at present. 25 injured workers and 10 dependents of deceased workers wanted our assistance to get compensation from employer.
Involvement in the process of paying compensation to the Rana Plaza victims: From the very beginning of Rana Plaza collapse, SRS was involved in assisting the victims. At one stage, it became the member of a Network named ‘SromikNirapotta Forum’ (Worker Safety Forum) – that worked for rehabilitation and compensation of Rana Plaza victims and their families. Finally, when BLAST – a member of the network- with the support of German Development partner GIZ, started receiving claims from the victims and/or dependent families SRS becomes the partner. This four months claims taking project started on 24th March 2014 setting up a office in the Cantonment Board at Nobinagar, Savar, Dhaka and SRS’s Executive Director was involved in supervising the claim receiving process for two days a week. These claims were received for fixing the amount of compensation for individual victim and/or the dependent family member who will be compensated from the ILO generated 40 million fund with the support of Buyers/Brands, Suppliers/Garment owners, Government, BGMEA, BKMEA, and individuals. All together 2,806 claims (female-1,777 and male-1,029) were received of which 2,004 from injured workers (female-1,287 and male-717), 133 from missing families (female – 88 and male – 45) and 669 from deceased families (female-402 and male-267). It was designed that each claim will be assessed and calculated according to ILO convention 121 (http://www.ranaplaza-arrangement.org/mou/claims/claims-calculations).
Assist in preparing BLA Rules: The Ministry of Labour and Employment has taken initiative to formulate BLA Rules. To do that it has formed a committee to which SRS has submitted a list of recommendations to include it in the Rules.
4. Problems, challenges and lessons learnt during the year
Political unrest disrupted the undertaking of some planned activities on time – and sometimes, we have carried out some activities during hartal or blockades.
Though, it was a challenge for SRS to carry out additional 9 One-Day trainings and to publish a handbook on labour rights issue within a short-period of time, SRS met the challenge efficiently.
SRS enjoyed working with its partner like BLAST and BRAC. But, sometimes we faced some challenges like getting investigation report in time from BRAC or getting cases filed before labour courts by BLAST. Continuous communication with the partners helped us to overcome those challenges.
Non-cooperation by the association of developer companies (REHAB) was a problem to carry out training on Construction safety. We are continuously contacting with them to enhance our relationship, which will benefit us in future.
5. Recommendations and conclusion
In every sector, workers are neglected. There is no sector where workers are enjoying their rights fully, with construction being one of the worst’s. We believe, SRS’s intervention will help bring the change allowing workers to enjoy their living wage, insurance, provident fund, gratuity, decent work environment, and proper compensation.Sekender Ali Mina Executive Director Safety and Rights Society 14/23 Babor Road (4th floor), Block-B Mohammadpur, Dhaka E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Cellphone: 01711-780017, 01193200207 Telephone: 9119903-04