What the papers say

Worker Health & Safety

A weekly round up of articles about employment, the labour market, skills training and workforce development. This week’s round up is drawn from The Daily Star. Here is the news for the week ending 8th October 2020.

This Week in the Bangladesh English News…

…garment workers reported being Covid-free. Some innovative businesses, including a jute-export business, have recent success. And what are cloud kitchens?

Education and Labour Market

Most garment workers reported not being infected with Covid-19 according to the findings of a separate study by Manusher Jonno Foundation: 99.8 percent of 430 workers said they are Covid-free. However, 96 percent said they aren’t informed if their co-workers are infected, and 2 percent reported family members were infected. Furthermore, 86 percent said while experiencing fever and cold, they did not visit a doctor or get tested.

Garment workers and their families earned less and ate less during April and May according to a large study of some 1,000 workers done by Brac University. Seventy-seven percent struggled to feed their families and 69 percent reported eating less meat, fish and eggs, although 40 percent ate more beans and lentils.

Garment manufacturers may more quickly adapt new technologies as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, said the International Labour Organisation in a study exploring the future of the garment industry in Asia. The ILO predicted some buyers will reconsider their operations and prioritize more advanced operations. Asia, however, will not change as the dominant source of global garment production.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke about increasing women’s participation in the workforce – by 2041 there should be 50-50 participation, she said. “Empowerment comes with income and employment.”

School closures have been extended until 31st October.

Higher Secondary Certificate exams have officially been canceled, and in place of HSC exam results, the results of HSC candidates will instead be based on the results of their Junior School Certificate and Secondary School Certificate exams.

Financial Services

The Bangladesh Bank asked banks in June to give 0.03 percent of export earnings to support the central fund to for workers in the readymade garment sector. However, the central bank said banks have not made the deposits in recent months.

Business, Investments, Trade and Growth

“Cloud kitchens” is a new term and a booming industry that many people have engaged with – they are restaurants operating online and through deliveries, and they are soaring in popularity. Restaurants are not the only ones taking advantage of the online and delivery opportunities; individuals are also taking to online platforms to sell foods from their homes.

A jute product, shoes, has become a successful export for one factory. Amass Footwear factory, has employed some 480 people, and was profiled by the Daily Star as it remains active and open for business.

Solar power is providing benefits to Paragon Poultry. The company recently put solar panels on its rooftop. “It generates one taka benefit for per watt of electricity compared to electricity bought from public electricity providers,” said managing director Md Moshuir Rahman. And there’s more: “Apart from the cash benefits, one of the biggest advantages is a reduction in house temperature.”

In a webinar hosted by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling economists highlighted the advantages Bangladesh has in recovering and the development setbacks the pandemic has posed, including poverty and child nourishment. And they discussed the informal sector; one economist said the sector’s contributions should be acknowledged and another said, “Informal firms might accept the cost of formalising now in order to receive government support.”

Farmers and Agriculture

The market price of onions remains high, although some imports have arrived. A large shipment of onions is expected 10th October.

Pesticide-free brinjal was grown by two farmers using the bagging method. The farmers used polybags, as advised by the Department of Agricultural Extension, to protect their crop from insects. “This method is helping us unbelievably and we are earning high profit in brinjal growing,” said one farmer.

Other News

A girl took over as divisional commissioner in the Barishal division on Tuesday. The move was organised by Plan International to mark International Day of the Girl Child.

The most recent Covid-19 numbers are available here.

One reply on “Worker Health & Safety”

Thanks for another really interesting weekly summary, Mary.

The informal sector really is a conundrum for economists. On the one hand the sector provides resilience against economics shocks through flexibility for businesses and very basic economic opportunities for poorer people. On the other hand economists are now suggesting Government support to businesses affected by the pandemic will encourage them to formalise employment and finance other regulatory requirements.

At the end of the day a fair and affordable social security system is essential for economic resilience.

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