Bangladesh Government is pushing tanneries to move from national capital’s (Dhaka) Hazaribagh area to the suburbs of Savar. As the process is still on, many tannery workers are uncertain about their job security/service benefits.
Out of 30 unionized tanneries of Hazaribagh, nearly 20 have already given job assurance letters to their workers. Remaining factories have also made promises regarding the same; but so far no ‘assurance’ has been made.
Shahin Ahmed, President of Bangladesh Tanners Association is hopeful about the assurance certificates to workers. He reportedly said, “The tanners should have been given at least four months to settle issues like workers’ assurance certificates. But the Department of Environment disconnected the utility connections to factories all of a sudden.”
He added, “The majority of the permanent workers of unionised factories would be employed at the Savar units, but the fate of the temporary or contractual workers is yet to be determined.”
Tannery workers’ major service benefits are gratuities, annual earned leave benefits, provident fund and other allowances. If the workers are not given their assurance certificates, they might not be able to claim service benefits or jobs at the new factory sites.
The Hazaribagh tanneries have more than 25,000 permanent workers and upwards of 30,000 temporary workers. As Department of Environment (DoE) disconnected the power, gas and water supplies on April 8, 154 factories are shifting to Savar from Hazaribagh.
It may be mentioned here that leather industry is one of the key industries in Bangladesh and employs a large number of people. The industry was the second largest export sector of the country in the fiscal year 2014-15.