Bangladesh Labour Foundation (BLF) has organized a Round Table Seminar on “Elimination of Child Labour” at a hotel in the Capital Dhaka on October 25, 2020. The seminar was presided by the Chairman of BLF Mr. Abdus Salam Khan where MR K M Abdus Salam, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment attended as Chief Guest. The main objective of the event was to present the current scenario of child labour of the local garment factory/organization and to determine the steps to be taken to eliminate child labour.
Labour and Empolyment secretary KM Abdus Salam said Keraniganj would be a child labour-free area by 2022 as government is determined to eliminate it from the country to achieve SDGs. “A committee will be formed within the next week to make Keraniganj a child labour -free area. DC, mayor, union parishad chairman and trade union leaders will be included in the committee,” he added. He also mentioned that the international agencies including the ILO will be more helpful to achieve SDGs instead of only giving advice.
BLF executive director AKM Ashraf Uddin underscored the need for providing non-formal education and skill development training for children to achieve the SDGs. “The number of child labourers has increased here due to Covid -19 pandemic. Many of the children are being forced to work due to financial crisis in the families,” he added.
While presenting a keynote paper on the Keraniganj garment hub, AKM Ashraf, executive director at the Bangladesh Labour Foundation (BLF), said there are around 2.30 lakh workers employed in nearly 9,500 factories in Keraniganj. “Of them, 52%, or 1.20 lakh, are children aged below 17. Of them, most (83.46%) are between 14 and 17 years old,” said he added. According to the International Labour Organization, child labour refers to the exploitation of children through any form of work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school, and is mentally, physically, socially or morally harmful. The BLF conducted their study in the clothing industry, considering child labour age limit to 18. According to their study findings, children at Keraniganj garment units have to work 12 hours a day on an average. The working hour climbs up to 16-18 hours ahead of the Eid festivals. Children are usually treated as an apprentice for two years upon joining, and they do not get any salary during the time, said the report.
Speaking on the occasion, BLF Chairman Abdus Salam said as Keraniganj supplies about 70% of garments to the local market, they choose the place for carrying out the research.
The other discussants also emphasised to take immediate action to implement the government’s commitment to abolish child labour in this sector.
BLF Secretary General ZM Kamrul Anam moderated the event while a number of garment manufacturers and labour leaders were also present.