Some of 87% people engaged in the transport, hotel-restaurant, and retail sectors in the capital suffered job losses during the Covid-led lockdown last year, a new study has found.
Besides, workers saw their income erode up to 81% as compared with pre-Covid times. Later, with the withdrawal of the lockdown, income recovered to 92%.
The study, conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS), on "The status of social protection and job security of private-sector workers; experiences amid Covid-19 pandemic and way-forward", was presented at a press conference in Dhanmondi on Thursday.
Researchers surveyed 400 workers and 30 owners of the sectors concerned active in the capital from August to December last year.
According to the study report, the sectors are yet to recover 7% of their pre-lockdown sectoral employment.
Among the sectors, transport witnessed the most loss in workers during the lockdown period, a staggering 95%, while hotel-restaurant and retail shops saw 82.6% and 83.3% unemployment respectively.
One victim from the hotel and restaurant sector, Saddam, said he and his brothers had three shops in the city – one coffee shop, a 'fuchka' shop and a grocery shop. But during the lockdown, they had to close down all the shops for not being able to bear the rent and other costs.
"We had three shops, but now we don't have one. Just the coffee shop incurred us a Tk2,50,000 loss. We have lost all of our savings," he said.
Saddam now works as a fuchka seller in the shop that he once owned. His brothers have returned to their village home in Rangpur and drive auto rickshaws there.
Meanwhile, part-time jobs in the sectors increased remarkably during the lockdown – an average of 215% – with the retail sector alone seeing a 600% rise, according to data in the report.
BILS Chairman Amirul Islam Amin made 10 recommendations to protect the workers of these private sectors as the country is seeing a massive surge from the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The recommendations include preparing a complete database of private-sector workers, establishing a special fund, ensuring vaccination of all private-sector workers on a priority basis, ensuring free Covid-19 treatment for the private sector workers, etc.