EU, Germany join forces with Bangladesh to safeguard workers

The European Union (EU) and Germany signed an agreement to provide EUR 113 million, nearly Tk 1,145 crore, in support to the government’s “Social Protection Programme” for unemployed and distressed workers in the RMG, leathergoods and footwear industries.

This programme, which is part of Team Europe’s contribution to fight Covid-19 and its consequences in Bangladesh, offers a safety net to workers whose livelihoods are affected by the economic fallout, said the European Union Embassy in Dhaka on Thursday.

It also contributes towards strengthening the resilience of Bangladesh’s social security system.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a public health emergency with immediate economic consequences.

The government of Bangladesh responded swiftly with significant stimulus packages to the industries and scaled-up assistance to mitigate socio-economic impacts, with a particular attention to Bangladeshis living in poverty or who are highly vulnerable.

The European Union and Germany are joining forces with the government to safeguard the livelihoods of vulnerable workers in the garment and leather export-oriented industries who are at a heightened risk of being pushed into poverty.

This support will allow these workers to transit over a specific critical period, without major disruptions in their lives and consumption levels.

EU Ambassador Rensje Teerink said the Covid-19 pandemic has had detrimental consequences over the world and the poor are the first to bear the brunt of this crisis.

She said social protection is essential to protect people in situations of vulnerability, particularly when a crisis hits.

By providing income support to workers in key export sectors who lost their jobs, at least temporarily, the social protection programme for unemployed and distressed workers responds to an immediate need to protect livelihoods, said the Ambassador.

“It is also part of longer-term efforts to establish sustainable social security mechanisms for workers, alongside continuous investments in skilling and job creation. In close coordination with our Member States and like-minded partners, the EU remains committed to support the government of Bangladesh to boost the resilience of its social protection system in line with best practices,” said the Ambassador.

German Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz said Germany’s contribution is part of our long-standing cooperation to support the workers in the textile industry in Bangladesh.

“During these difficult times, we are glad to join forces with the EU in order to help the Government of Bangladesh to mitigate the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of textile workers,” he said.

In line with the programme guidelines issued by the Department of Labour, Ministry of Labour and Employment, in charge, temporary cash assistance will be provided to workers who suffered income losses during the pandemic and lost their jobs because of reduced worldwide demand or due to health and safety precautionary measures.

Eligible workers, according to the guidelines, will receive Tk 3,000 per month/worker for a period of up to 3 months.

They will be identified in close coordination with the employers’ associations, which include Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) and the Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leathergoods and Footwear Exporters’ Association (BFLLFEA).

The first payments to eligible beneficiaries should take place before the end of the year, as announced by the Government.

The EU and Germany grant of EUR 113 million will be channelled through the EU sector budget programme on National Social Security Strategy reforms in Bangladesh.

Source: United News of Bangladesh