Postal unions in Bangladesh are demanding adequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for postal workers, as they provide essential services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
UNI Global Union affiliate, the Bangladesh Postman and Dak Karmachari Union (BPADKU), say workers lack sufficient PPE, such as masks and hand sanitizers, despite their public facing roles that put them at greater risk of catching Covid-19. While the union has tried to address the gap by providing some PPE for their members, there is not enough to cover everyone.
The union is also urging the government to allow postal employees to benefit from the same incentives offered to workers in other designated emergency services, such as bonuses, health cover and life insurance.
In addition, BPADKU is calling for postal employees to have access to healthcare at nearby hospitals should they become sick with coronavirus.
Postal workers in Bangladesh are carrying out a multitude of duties, including delivering medicine and PPE to remote areas, as well as performing financial transactions through Nagad, a mobile banking application belonging to the Post Office.
UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, said:
“It cannot be right that postal workers, tasked with the essential job of delivering much needed PPE to all corners of Bangladesh, are lacking PPE themselves. The Post in Bangladesh has been designated an emergency service as it keeps the country connected, and we urge the Bangladesh government to afford postal workers with the same protections, incentives and access to healthcare as given to other emergency service workers.”
The Bangladeshi union demands came after an online meeting of BPADKU’s National Executive Committee on 16 May, which was convened by BPADKU President, Mr. Saiful Islam Chowdhury, and moderated by the General Secretary Mr. Amjad Ali Khan. During the pandemic, the union has sent relief funds to poor employees, particularly in the western zone of Bangladesh and distributed Covid-19 awareness leaflets, masks and sanitizers.
“At the beginning of this pandemic, UNI Post&Logistics developed guidelines for the sector based on Information, Prevention and Action, which we are calling on all postal operators and governments to follow,” said Cornelia Berger Head of UNI Post&Logistics. “Based on this approach, we signed an agreement with the Universal Postal Union (UPU), to protect postal workers. As Bangladesh is a full-member of the UPU, we call on the Bangladesh Post Office to provide proper PPE to all workers and make their health and safety their top priority.”
UNI Global Union and UNI’s Asia-Pacific Regional Office (UNI Apro) have sent solidarity letters backing the union. UNI Apro Regional Secretary, Rajendra Acharya, wrote: “UNI Apro supports BPADKU’s demands and urges the Government to take necessary actions to meet their demands. Unity is Power. Together we can combat COVID-19!”
The Bangladesh Post Office employs some 23,000 workers and the large majority are members of BPADKU and UNI affiliate, the Bangladesh Postal Extra Departmental Karmachari Union (BPEDKU).