Highlighting the reduction in absenteeism and higher productivity levels, speakers at a programme on Tuesday called upon factory owners to continue the successful models adopted by development partners for long-term health protection and overall well-being of garment workers.
Continuing those initiatives would benefit not only the workers, but the entire garment sector as well, they also said at a programme titled "Project dissemination - RMG inclusive business program, sharing and learning event" held at a hotel in the capital.
The event was organised by SNV Bangladesh, a development agency in the Netherlands, also the implementation partner of the pilot project.
From 2018, the pilot of an inclusive business model for the health and welfare of garment workers – Working with Women-2 – was run, involving 10 ready-made garment factories, insurance companies, business organisations and NGOs.
The models included providing health insurance, strengthening factory medical centres through partnering with qualified health service providers, introducing sanitary napkins and hygiene management in factories, having community health services, empowering women and ensuring their rights, taking factory-led initiatives to ensure maternal nutrition, setting wellbeing shops in factories to ensure affordable sexual and reproductive health service, and providing psychosocial support for factory workers.
On the conclusion of the pilot, the parties concerned shared their experience.
Speaking at the event, factory representatives highlighted the benefits of workers' insurance and other measures taken, pointing to how it reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.
Mushfiqua Zaman Satiar, senior policy adviser to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said that even if the inclusive business pilot was over, factory owners should continue and expand it on their own initiative in the interest of sustainable development of workers and factories.
Calling upon the government and development partners to stand beside the RMG sector, Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association, said that they are conducting various activities to improve the health and skills of the workers.
The Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh assisted SNV in this endeavour.
Ismene RAC Stalpers, country director of SNV Bangladesh, Mostafa Jamal Pasha, director of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturer & Exporters Association, Md Aminul Islam, director, Directorate General of Family Planning, and Farhtheeba Khan, team leader, SNV Bangladesh, among others, also addressed the ceremony.
Earlier in 2014, another project was launched in this regard and it, too, was implemented by SNV.