Apparel supplier to the world – that is how Bangladesh is seen today. With an export volume of USD 28 billion in 2017, the country is the second largest exporter and one of the major players in the global garment industry. Approximately 4,500 factories employ over four million people.
Major industrial accidents in 2012 (fire broke out on 24 November 2012, in the Tazreen Fashion factory) and 2013 (the collapse of the Rana Plaza building on 24 April 2013) clearly demonstrated that workers are not fully protected while facing the risks of workplace accidents or occupational diseases in the country.
Even since 2013, after the tragic event of Rana Plaza, Bangladesh still lacks a comprehensive employment injury insurance. Therefore, workers in Bangladesh do not receive the benefits they are entitled to as per globally agreed standards for employment injury insurance (EII) of the ILO convention 121. Additionally, Bangladesh is the only country in the top 20 RMG exporters that does not have any form of social insurance scheme, including an EII.
The Government of Bangladesh is aware of the issues and plans to introduce an employment injury protection scheme for the working class, starting with the RMG sector, in Bangladesh which will include the holistic approach of prevention, rehabilitation and compensation. However, the legislative framework, administrative structures as well as processes required for the roll-out of a statutory employment injury protection scheme are not yet in place.
GIZ and ILO have been collaborating in supporting the Government and social partners of Bangladesh for the development of an EII. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to raise awareness and increase the knowledge on EII among the tripartite stakeholders comprising government, employer, and worker representatives.
In 2020, the Laudes Foundation commissioned GIZ to implement the project Shurokkha (Advocacy for Employment Injury Insurance) with the general objective to build a political consensus for the adoption of an EII in Bangladesh’s RMG sector.