The Anganwadi Workers of India — Connecting for Health at the Grassroots By Ishrath Humairah filed under Healthcare Infrastructure on March 3, India is home to the largest population of malnourished and hunger-stricken people and children leading to high infant and maternal mortality. Along with these issues are a deluge of problems ranging from diseases, lack of education, lack of hygiene, illness, etc. To combat this situation, the Government of India in initiated the Integrated Child Development Service ICDS scheme which operates at the state level to address the health issues of small children, all over the country. It is one of the largest child care programmes in the world aiming at child health, hunger, mal nutrition and its related issues.
Victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse and their families demonstrating at the site of the disaster demanding full compensation. Workers report violations including physical assault, verbal abuse — sometimes of a sexual nature — forced overtime, denial of paid maternity leave, and failure to pay wages and bonuses on time or in full.
Despite recent labor law reforms, many workers who try to form unions to address such abuses face threats, intimidation, dismissal, and sometimes physical assault at the hands of factory management or hired third parties. At the Tazreen factory, where a fire killed at least workers on November 24,managers refused to let workers escape even after the fire alarms went off.
While changes to some labor laws since Rana Plaza, including provisions easing the union registration process, have facilitated registration of new unions, still fewer than 10 percent of garment factories in Bangladesh have unions. Union leaders told Human Rights Watch that they continue to be targeted by factory management, risking abuse by both managers and supervisors, or thugs acting at their behest.
In some factories, workers leading efforts to form unions have been dismissed for their organizing activities.
Factory owners and management reject these allegations. The vast majority of garment workers are women, while supervisors and managers are mostly men, and sometimes the verbal abuse of women workers is of a sexual nature.
A union leader at a factory in Gazipur said that when she and others tried to set up a union in Januarythey were brutally assaulted and scores of workers were fired. She said she was beaten while pregnant, forced to work at night, and eventually fired, without receiving all the back wages she was owed, all because she refused to stop unionizing.
Since the Rana Plaza disaster, the government has taken steps to strengthen the Directorate of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, which is responsible for monitoring work place safety and compliance, and has hired more inspectors. But Human Rights Watch found that much more remains to be done to strengthen the ability of the Ministry of Labour and Employment to effectively investigate and prosecute unfair labor practices, including anti-union discrimination, intimidation, and harassment cases, and ensure inspectors strictly follow the law.
For instance, in one Dhaka-based factory, female union leaders faced threats, abuse, and dramatically increased workloads after they submitted union registration forms. In interviews with Human Rights Watch, six women who helped set up the union all said they were harassed for having sought to register, and one even said she received threats at home: Many international garment brands and retailers have company codes of conduct that require suppliers to respect the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and factory managers have said that they comply with these codes.
But despite these measures, workers in factories told Human Rights Watch that many abuses and violations are simply not noticed, or are ignored, by the monitors inspecting factories by or on behalf of buyers.
Factory owners and the companies buying their products have responsibilities to prevent human rights violations from occurring in the garment factories. They should take effective steps to identify and mitigate human rights risks, and should take remedial action should abuses occur.
International apparel companies and clothing retailers should also agree to supply chain transparency and regularly and publicly disclose all Bangladesh-based factories from which they source. Three separate initiatives to inspect the factories for safety are underway, by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, and by government inspectors, supported by the ILO.
However, more remains to be done to adequately support the victims of the collapse of Rana Plaza and the deadly fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory. Survivors told Human Rights Watch that the compensation they have received until now is not sufficient to pay their medical bills and cover their loss of livelihood.
For victims of the Tazreen fire, the situation is much worse in the absence of a sustained campaign for compensation, such as in the case of the Rana Plaza collapse.The Rana Plaza collapse brought the world’s attention to worker safety issues and the human costs of cheap, fast fashion, resulting in some much-needed reforms to Bangladesh’s garment industry.
Human Rights Watch is a (C)(3) nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: Get updates on human rights issues from around the globe. Join our movement today. The seven committees in the Economic and Social Council and Regional Bodies at HMUN India include the medium-sized councils, commissions, and programmes of the UN, which tackle issues of development, human rights, culture, economics, and trade.
The Complex Relationship Between Discrimination Grievances and Human Rights Complaints As we learn in Employment Law courses, work law is complicated by overlapping legal regimes. "Rana Plaza attracted the attention of the world and opened a small window for us. Much has changed. The working environment is better, and all factories have fire protection equipment now." But the price was high.
It was paid by those who died. By those who lost their relatives. Discover Big Issues Response by PWT: re Rana Plaza building collapse Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Registered Charity in England & Wales no. (c)(3) non-profit organization in USA.
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