Bangladesh: NSEF demands protection of health and job security for shop employees during Covid-19 pandemic
UNI affiliate, the National Shop Employee Federation (NSEF), mobilized last Friday (3 July) in Dhaka to highlight the plight of shop employees struggling to survive the economic fallout from the pandemic. Despite the risks to their own health, the union leaders and members staged a human chain demonstration in front of the National Press Club to make their demands known.
More than ten leaders of the NSEF, speaking up for the 6 million shop employees in Bangladesh, demand that shop owners and employers fulfil their responsibility to their shop workers with respect to the health and safety conditions at work, outstanding salary and compensation payments, and security of jobs.
In their press release, the NSEF said that all small shops, markets, shopping malls and department stores were closed since the national lockdown at the end of March. The majority have remained closed while some establishments have re-opened. However, for those that have re-open operations, the working conditions are not ideal or adequate in protecting the health of their workers.
The NSEF leaders said that forced closures should not be an excuse for employers to shirk their basic responsibilities to their workers under their employ. Many shop workers were not paid salaries for April, May and June. Many of them were also denied the yearly Eid bonus. Deprived of their salary for months, many shop workers are falling into a precarious state of poverty.
UNI Apro Regional Secretary, Rajendra Acharya, says, “This is a most worrying and distressing situation. Even though the pandemic is far from being over, the shop employers still need to help their workers tide through the immediate crisis period. The demands of the NSEF are not unreasonable. UNI Apro is in solidarity and supports the NSEF and their members to engage the government of Bangladesh and the employers to work out a sustainable and optimal solution to overcome this predicament.”