Promotion of Decent Work for Agricultural Workers in Bangladesh

Promotion of Decent Work for Agricultural Workers in Bangladesh

Agriculture is the single most important sector of the Bangladesh economy providing the major source of livelihood in the rural areas where about 78 percent of the population lives. The sector accounts for 47 percent of total labour force and contributes approximately 16 percent of the GDP. The performance of this sector has an overwhelming impact on major macroeconomic objectives like employment generation, poverty alleviation, human resources development and food security. Participation of women workers in the agriculture sector of Bangladesh is increasing with visible discrimination at workplaces.

Agriculture sector in Bangladesh is presently suffering with acute decent work deficit. The basic characteristics of informal sector of Bangladesh are: no policy and legal frame-work; absence of employer-employee relationship; poor wage; long working hour; high occupational health and safety risks; no social protection/safety-net and lack of fundamental rights of the workers at workplaces, low organizing capacity and initiatives by trade unions etc.

According to Bangladesh Labour Force Survey 2013, total labour forces are 5.41 cores where 3.79 male & 1.62 are female. Total 47.3% are employed in agriculture sector where employed in industry sector 17.64% & service sector 35.06%.

The socio-economic condition of agriculture labourer in Bangladesh is not up to the mark. They lead their live & livelihood through selling labour, cultivate land on shared basis/ lease. Very often they do not received fare wage and fare share of produced crops. Even they do not receive fare price of crops also. No social security scheme for them. As per agriculture census 1996 approximate 65% families are included definition of rural wage. They are the majority class of Bangladesh. Officially they defined as rural poor. Agricultural labourers are amongst the poorest people in rural areas. Their jobs are often temporary, wages are low and working conditions can be very hazardous. More and more women are in waged agricultural jobs, but despite their numbers, they are generally “invisible” to governments, donors and international institutions.

Existing labour law of the country recently permitted the agriculture worker rights to form trade union and bargain collectively in a limited way although the country has ratified ILO Convention 87 & 98 long ago. So far very little initiatives taken at national level towards organizing the workers at this sector or engaged on a dedicated policy advocacy campaign at national level on promotion of rights and social protection of agriculture workers through the collective initiative of Labour NGOs and National trade unions. There is always a need for an integrated organizing initiative and policy advocacy actions for having special policy measures and legal framework of protecting workplace rights and minimum social protection measures for workers at agriculture sector of Bangladesh, and building capacity of trade unions integrating the agriculture workers under the umbrella of union.

This project instigates to build the capacity of the workers who those are working in the agriculture in both project areas towards to organizing as well as raising awareness on occupational health and safety to prevent occupational hazards and diseases. Through the project activities BLF also contributed to the improvement of the working conditions, reduce gender discrimination, and build awareness and capacity regarding trade unionism, FOA in the agricultural industry in Bangladesh.

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