Md. Shafiqul Islam aged about 39 years old is doing construction work as a mason. He started to work when he was 13/14 years old. At the age of 5 he came from Bhola to Dhaka with his uncle and aunty due to financial crisis. He belonged to a very poor family. Now he lives in a slum of Kallayanpur area with his wife, 2 sons and a daughter. He is doing hard work every day for maintaining his family. He never knows about labour law before SRS’s intervention. He faced various problems in the work. He said “when I worked under employer I did not have any proof. I did not get any appointment letter. If any accident or disputes arise between us there is no proof it to solve. Sometimes employer refused me as his worker.”
Appointment letter is a right of any worker who works under an employer. An employer is responsible to give it. Not only appointment letter but also personal protective equipment, welfare facilities and health care facilities should be ensured by the employers. In Bangladesh, construction workers are deprived to get any facility under labour law.
Through training and discussion meeting, 25 construction workers of Kallyanpur area were able to learn basic rights as per Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006. Md. Shafiqul Islam is one of them. He wanted appointment letter from the employer. Initially the employer did not give him the appointment letter. But he motivated the employer to give appointment letter and after that he got it. “An appointment letter is not useful for workers only, it also useful for employers”, he said.
This group is not a member of any trade union. But after training program they try to build or join trade union as their wish. In the initiative of Md. Shafiqul Islam they are sitting together 2 days a week. “I hope if SRS staying beside us we will achieve the goal very soon. In this area almost 5 to 7 thousand construction workers live and work. I want to know them the rights of workers as per Labour Act, 2006. It is not so easy but I will try and hope one day the change in the state of labour rights will come true,” he says.