May Day, 2016
May 1st, International Workers’ Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized and observed globally today. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour work day. Back on 1st May, in 1886, the labors of Chicago, USA, called for strike demanding- eight working hours, better pay, convenient work environment. The movement ended up in violence, bloodshed, and number of death following the clash with police. Since, then this day is celebrated worldwide commemorating and recognizing the sacrifice and devotion of the labors.
On the eve of historic May day, a human chain, organized by Bangladesh Ovibashi Adhikar Forum (BOAF) supported by WARBE DF and AWO International, was formed in front of national press club. This was followed by a may day consultation on the rights of Migrant Workers. This consultation was organized by Bangladesh Civil Society Coordination Committee on GFMD, and supported by WARBE Development Foundation & AWO International e.V. Featuring various guest speakers, and covering a broad range of vocal points and with greater focus on protecting the rights of women migrant workers, their health issue, right to vote abroad, legal aid, and the uncompensated and non-responded death of the migrant workers. The key speakers, guests and the participants shared their experience and thoughts on the issues of the consultation and the necessity of adopting more effective initiative from the government in protecting the rights of all migrant workers, and a setting up a common platform from the government, private and civil societies to strengthen this movement were echoed in the meeting.
Sharif Hossen Chowdhury, project corrdinator, WARBE DF, welcomes everyone and thanks them for attending the program. Mr. Syed Saiful Haque, Chairman, WARBE DF , says migrant workers are working relentlessly in amassing valuable remittance and contributing in strengthening national economy of our country. But hardly their distresses and issue of rights violation are addressed. He mentions as Bangladesh is a leading country in sending migrant workers, also the Global Forum on Migration & Development (GFMD) is going to be held in Bangladesh this year.
Ms. Jasiya Khatoon, on her key note address says- almost more than ten (10) million migrant workers are working in different countries mostly in the Gulf region. We are handling too many cases of the tortured and victimized in the Middle East. Event they also get imprisoned on unknown ground. Therefore, we demand: Safety of the female workers, voting Rights, free ticket free visa, and the proper medical autopsy of the dead migrant workers.
Sumaiya Islam, Director, BOMSA, says- we have identified the complains of our female workers. There are some loopholes in our law, rules. We have to sort these out. For example, it is not discussed that any workers belonging to the age group 18 and below cannot work. Also we have to find out the causes behind the huge death toll overseas . Rafiqul Islam, leader jubo shromik lerague, expects the chief guest of this consultation will work for overcoming the problem s and stresses our migrant workers are currently facing and going through. He thanks them who organized this consultation.
Md. Faruque Ahmed, Secretary general, WARBE DF, says that though the male workers sometimes can share their distresses and agonies, but what about the female migrant workers. They can even hardly share the stories of the bitter experiences they face overseas. In the gulf region, he demands for a combined residential dormitory for the female migrant workers, from where they will be transported to and from the working place. This residential facility should be managed and supervised by the employer companie in the destination countries. This initiative will facilitate a common place for the female workers where they will be able to share their agonies and feelings. Also this will ensure better safety to them. He also expects ILO convention 189 to be ratified.
Atiqun Nabi, Executive Director, INAFI, says- there are some goals are in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which relates the labor issue and migration issue. These goals need to be discussed more in the migration related discussion. He adds- we need to know the detailed information of compensation (both on insurance facilities, and health facilities) for the dead migrant workers. Also government should ensure the re-integration of the returnee migrants. Md. Nazmul Ahsan, Chairman, (BOAF), asks for ensuring the safety of our labors who come from rural areas. He expects they will not face any problem and mishandled by the middlemen or the brokers.
The chief guest, Mr. Israfil Alam, MP, thanks to the organizers of this consultation and expresses deep gratitude to the migrant workers. He said- if they would not send back the remittance national economy will fall down and the momentum of the development will stop. He also says- in GFMD we, Bangladesh could lead. BD is now in a situation who can lead the worker., and the legal steps and safety for the migrant workers have also been ensured. The chief guest expects in future they will avail membership in the labor organization. The behavior toward the female workers by the employer is improving gradually. He adds- he was the first one to raise voice on this issue in the parliament. But, this does not belong to him or the PM of Bangladesh, this success belongs to the entire country. And the another important thing is skill. The workers Should be skilled. otherwise they will get low pay. He thanks the audience and the organizers again for listening and inviting him.
At the end, Syed Saiful Haque, the moderator, thanks everyone for attending and participating in this consultation on the eve this historic May day.