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2 May, 2021 06:33:16 PM

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Rights of the working class during Covid-19 pandemic

The relief that comes to them in the time of Covid-19 is absolutely insignificant compared to the need. That's why we see people walking on the streets disobeying the lockdown.
Bahauddin Abir
Rights of the working class during Covid-19 pandemic

May 1 is a national holiday in almost all countries of the world including Bangladesh. But we have to think about how many workers are able to enjoy this holiday and how many are still going to the labour market in quest of their livelihood.

May 1 was chosen to be International Workers' Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. In that year beginning on May 1, there was a general strike for the eight-hour workday. On May 4, the police acted to disperse a public assembly in support of the strike when an unidentified person threw a bomb. The police responded by firing on the workers. The event led to the deaths of seven police officers and at least thirty-eight civilians. Sixty police officers were injured, as were one hundred and fifteen civilians.

World Workers' Day has been established today through the bloody movement of workers. The consciousness of realizing the rights of the workers started from this movement. In the face of long irregularities, arbitrariness, and injustice, the workers once stood up, letting the owner know that they were also human, they also had rights. They needed leave, they needed fixed working hours, they needed fair wages. Every year on World Workers' Day, various organizations including political parties, trade unions, and workers' federations hold big seminars, rallies, discussions on workers' rights and labour movement. This day is a day to keep the consciousness of workers' rights alive. Many political parties talk about workers' rights as they run the wheel of their politics.

In our country, workers usually mean those who work in garments factories or industries. In particular, factory or industrial workers are involved in the production, and service workers deliver it to the consumer such as construction workers, sales representatives, drivers, loaders, and other daily wage workers. The condition of labour rights in our country is at a very deplorable level. Tazreen Fashion, after the Rana Plaza accident, also appeared more naked before eye. We have not yet been able to give a fair trial to the workers who confessed to their deaths in this accident.

In addition, whenever there is a movement for the rights of the workers, from the law enforcement agencies to the employers, there is a kind of aggression. It is now a routine to find hints of a planned movement or conspiracy before hearing any demand. There was a movement with jute mill workers and many were arrested from there. And most recently, the workers at Banshkhali power station had to give their lives for demand of their salaries, allowances and rightful working hours. But they were shot dead by the police. However, the question arises, from 1886 to 2021, how much has changed in the life of worker? Have workers' professional life, economic and social security, and human rights been secured? However, we claim that the world has advanced in talent, technology, science, and humanity. But Covid-19 came and showed us this harsh reality with her fingers in our eyes once again.

We see how fragile the workers are economically and healthily around the Covid lockdown. Epidemic is on the rise in the country. Most of these workers do not have their own transport or arrangements to be the owner of their commuting. How many workers, including nurses, ward boys, and nurses, who are at the forefront of the epidemic, are insured or receiving risk allowances? But the health risk of infection was added with fear of losing job due to the closure of transport.

If workers are not covered by the risk allowance and insurance, consumers will not get regular services for a while. Formal workers may get incentives but informal workers do not get so. Farmers, rickshaw pullers, cobblers, shop workers seem to have no one to look after them. The relief that comes to them in the time of Covid-19 is absolutely insignificant compared to the need. That's why we see people walking on the streets disobeying the lockdown.

Covid-19 is hurting us in many ways at the moment. The increased use of technology is making workers redundant. As the days go by, more workers are becoming jobless due to automation. And in a third world country like ours, if a large number of people lose their jobs in future because of this, we have to think about their alternative employment.

Covid-19 has hit the country hard in all areas, economic, health and social. Everyone has to come out together from this trauma. The country's economy must have to be kept active and the rights of workers such as fair wages, fixed working hours and risk allowance must be protected.

We have to bring everything under control. We have to remember that to save the economy, we have to save lives first; and to save lives, we have to ensure the full rights of the workers. If workers survive, the economy will survive.

The writer is a student of department of marketing, University of Barishal. E-mail: [email protected]

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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