Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

Japan project to support Bangladesh informal sector workers

Posted in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Economy by Sherpa Hossainy on February 4, 2012

Published in The Independent on 23 January 2012

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

Bangladesh can establish a social safety net system for vulnerable groups and boost its economic growth by incorporating its informal sector workers into formal sectors, the labour minister has suggested.

“If we can provide grassroots support for informal sector workers who are suffering from poverty and widening disparities, we can boost economic growth as their contribution to the economy will be recognised,” said Khandker Mosharraf Hossain.

Around 80 per cent laboureres are working in the informal sectors in Bangladesh which includes agriculture, domestic work, tailoring, hawker, barbers, porters and rickshaw pullers, among others.

The minister was speaking at a symposium organised by the Japan International Labour Federation (JILAF) and International Trade Union Confederation, Bangladesh Chapter (ITUC-BC) on Sunday in  Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.

The symposium was organised to launch the Japanese government programme — “Supporting grassroots activities through the International Employers and Workers Network” (SGRA). This programme is run in Asian countries by Japan Government’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and implemented by JILAF.

The support is provided through the international labour management network by organising informal workers and their families who lack public support.

Shiro Sadoshima, ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, Hisashige Danno, deputy executive director of JILAF, Andre Bogui, director of ILO country office Bangladesh, and Masaaki Iuchi, deputy assistant minister for International Policy Planning Minister’s Secretariat, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, were also present. The programme targets vulnerable groups such as low-wage earners, women and people with disabilities. SGRA currently runs in Thailand and Nepal.

“SGRA will improve the socio-economic and livelihood condition of the workers and their families in informal economy and enhance the role of trade unions,” said Kenichi Kumagai, assistant general secretary of JILAF.

JILAF aims for the development of free and democratic labour movements in developing countries and promote their sound social and economic development, Kumagai added.

The minister said the programme will also provide information and vocational training necessary for a better life thus contributing to raising the minimum standard of living.

Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation Act 2006, the only legal instrument of the country which provide definition of informal sector, says in section 2(a): “Informal sector” means types of non government sector where workers’ work or condition of work etc are not recognised or controlled by existing labour law and related policies and where there is very limited scope for employed workers to be organised.

According to definition of International Labour Organisation (ILO), the informal sector consists of small-scale, self-employed activities (with or without hire workers) typically a low level of organisation and technology, with primary objective of generating employment and incomes.

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