Trade union think-tank BILS says budget not worker-friendly
Terming the proposed budget 'not worker-friendly', Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) has placed a 13-point recommendation including a specific budgetary policy and allocation to prepare a digital database of all workers across the country.
BILS is a think tank for trade union activity and other labour matters in the country having affiliation with 12 Bangladeshi trade union federations. Unlike many other labour organisations in Bangladesh, the institute is not affiliated with any political party.
Addressing a press conference on Monday on the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2021-22, the BILS leaders said employment-related information could be coordinated with the National Identity Card information in formulating the database, and trade unions could also be engaged in the formulation process.
The speakers at the the press conference also demanded sufficient budgetary allocation in five priority segments that include documentations and data generation, fresh and re-employment, social safety net, health safety and skill development to address the budgetary gaps for the wellbeing of the workers.
Speaking at the press conference, BILS Secretary General and Executive Director Nazrul Islam Khan said the proposed budget is not workers friendly. "The budget is not fully business-friendly, but friendly for large business," he said.
"The budget has not properly addressed or allocated sufficient budgetary allocation for cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs)," he said.
Even the Covid-19 packages announced for CSMEs are not properly distributed, he alleged adding due to Covid-19 and high price of essentials, workers' income decreased.
The budget did not take any measure to fill the income gap, he said adding workers' employment opportunity has been squeezed both in local and global markets. Even, many readymade garment workers lost their jobs while fresh employment opportunity in the sector has not created.
BILS Advisory Council member Naimul Ahsan Jewel, who presided over the conference, said this is for the first time that they have made such budgetary recommendations taking the workers' perspective into account.
The BILS recommendations also include budgetary policies and allocations to vaccinate workers, set up specialised hospitals in labour intensive zones for Covid treatment, introduction of health and injury insurance scheme for workers and their families.