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Inadequate infrastructures in Savar tannery create new crisis

25 November 2022

Staff Reporter :
Stakeholders of the tannery sector said that relocating factories from Hazaribagh to Savar before setting up necessary infrastructures, including a Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), had created new crises for entrepreneurs and workers.  
Thus Bangladesh has been losing its international markets, including Europe and America, for not having the certification of Leather Working Group (LWG) as the factories are not meeting the compliances.
In addition, the workers are being deprived of their rights, including minimum wages and other benefits like medical treatment, housing facilities and occupational safety.
They said that a concerted effort was necessary to protect the tannery industries, the second largest export sector where more than 8.5 lakh people are directly or indirectly involved.
The observation came at an 'Industrial Relations Stakeholders' Meeting' organised by Tannery Workers Union (TWU) and Solidarity Centre-Bangladesh (SC-B) in a city hotel on Wednesday. SCB Country Programme Director AKM Nasim presided over the event while TWU President Abul Kalam Azad conducted it.
Among others, Chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association Shahin Ahmed, Chairman of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin, Secretary General Bangladesh Labour Foundation ZM Qamrul Anam, Director of Bangladesh Institute of Leather Engineering and Technology, Dhaka University Dr Mizanur Rahman, and TWU General Secretary Abdul Malek, spoke.
SC-B Programme Officer Mohammad Nazrul Islam presented a keynote
paper highlighting the overall picture of the tannery sector, saying that the complete implementation of the Action Plan and protocols of Collective Bargaining Agent can benefit all stakeholders of the sector.
"The workers' rights have to be ensured. Besides, compliance is necessary for environmental justice. Waste management is a critical issue for the sector. So zero hazardous chemicals should be used to avoid workers' health risk," Shahin Ahmed said.
He also pointed out that the entrepreneurs should change their old mindset and do justice to environment.
 He also said, "The government should ensure utility services in Savar tannery industry to keep production. Otherwise, the production will be hampered and workers will lose jobs."
"With meeting the rights of the workers, the industry will not develop. On the other hand, the entrepreneurs in Savar are facing the troubles of the fund crisis. They need policy assistance," Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin said.
"For the relocation to Savar, about 40 percent of the skilled workers had left their jobs. Now entrepreneurs employ new people without much skill. It is a new problem for the sector," he added.
About the CETP, he said, "The CETP is autistic as it is not fully functional, causing environmental degradation."
Abdul Malek said, "Tannery is an age-old and promising industry, but this sector will not flourish by depriving the workers. We need an environment friendly tannery industry for the development of all."
Dr. Mizanur Rahman said, "The government may have drawbacks by relocating the tannery industries, but the entrepreneurs have to be proactive to whip up the government to realise necessary demands with specific directions." The speakers said that the tannery sector should be prepared for international standards to earn more currencies for national reserve.

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