The dramatic increase in working from home due to COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the poor working conditions experienced by many homeworkers who, prior to the crisis, numbered an estimated 260 million people worldwide.
Those working from home, whose number has greatly increased due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, need better protection, says the International Labour Organization (ILO) in a new report on Wednesday.
Since homeworking occurs in the private sphere it is often “invisible”.
In low- and middle-income countries for instance, almost all home-based workers (90 per cent) work informally.
They are usually worse off than those who work outside the home.
Even in higher-skilled professions they earn on average 13 per cent less in the United Kingdom; 22 per cent less in the United States of America; 25 per cent less in South Africa and about 50 per cent in Argentina, India and Mexico.
Homeworkers also face greater safety and health risks and have less access to training than non-home-based workers, which can affect their career prospects.
The report, Working from home: From invisibility to decent work, also shows that homeworkers do not have the same level of social protection as other workers.
They are also less likely to be part of a trade union or to be covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Renewed urgency According to ILO estimates, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, there were approximately 260 million home-based workers worldwide, representing 7.9 per cent of global employment; 56 per cent of them (147 million) were women.
They include teleworkers who work remotely on a continual basis, and a vast number of workers who are involved in the production of goods that cannot be automated, such as embroidery, handicrafts, electronic assembly.
A third category, digital platform workers, provide services, such as processing insurance claims, copy-editing, or data annotation for the training of artificial intelligence systems.
In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 an estimated one-in-five workers found themselves working from home.
Data for the whole of 2020, once it is available, is expected to show a substantial increase on the previous year.
The growth of homeworking is likely to continue in the coming years, the report says, bringing renewed urgency to the need to address the issues facing homeworkers and their employers.
Poorly regulated with lack of compliance Homeworking is often poorly regulated and compliance with existing laws remains a challenge.
In many instances, homeworkers are classified as independent contractors and therefore excluded from the scope of labour legislation.
“Many countries around the world have legislation, sometimes complemented by collective agreements, that addresses various decent work deficits associated with homework. Nonetheless, only 10 ILO Member States have ratified Convention No. 177, that promotes equality of treatment between homeworkers and other wage earners, and few have a comprehensive policy on homework,” said Janine Berg, ILO senior economist and one of the report’s authors.
The report includes concrete recommendations to make homeworking more visible and thus better protected. For industrial homeworkers, the report underlines the importance of facilitating their transition to the formal economy by extending legal protections, improving compliance, generalizing written contracts, providing access to social security and making homeworkers aware of their rights.
For home-based, digital platform workers, whose activities raise particular challenges for compliance as they cross multiple borders, the report advocates the use of data generated by their work to monitor working conditions and tools to set fair wages.
For teleworkers, the report calls on policymakers to put in place specific actions to mitigate psychosocial risks and introduce a “right to disconnect”, to ensure respect for the boundaries between working life and private life.
Homeworking is likely to take on greater importance in the years to come, the report says.
Governments, in cooperation with workers’ and employers’ organizations should work together to ensure that all homeworkers – whether they are weaving rattan in Indonesia, making shea butter in Ghana, tagging photos in Egypt, sewing masks in Uruguay, or teleworking in France – move from invisibility to decent work.
Bangladesh, Myanmar and China will hold a tripartite meeting on Rohingya repatriation in Dhaka on January 19 as Dhaka finds their repatriation to Myanmar as only solution to the crisis.
"We hope it would be a fruitful meeting," Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Wednesday about the tripartite talks.
Also read: 2020: Another year of agony for Rohingyas
He said the meeting will be held at secretary level while such tripartite meeting was last held on January 20 last year.
The Foreign Minister said Bangladesh has handed over a list of 840,000 Rohingyas to Myanmar for verification.
"Myanmar has verified very few people. They're very slow. They verified only 42,000 people. There is serious lack of seriousness," said the Foreign Minister.
Dr Momen said they are doing their part of the job but Myanmar is not responding the same way.
Also read:1,700 more Rohingyas on their way to Bhashan Char
Responding to a question, he said he is always hopeful of beginning repatriation as history says they took back their nationals in 1978 and 1992.
People live in hope and Ronhingya refugees also do so and thus they spent another, 2020, that they would have a dignified return to their homeland in Myanmar. But, the hope for a better day did not come.
The government, earlier, hinted that the repatriation talks will begin this month as there was no Rohingya repatriation and discussion in 2020 as those collided with Covid-19 pandemic and Myanmar general elections.
Big countries find the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar’s Rakhine State is the only solution.
More than three years ago, Myanmar’s soldiers “targeted, killed, and raped” Rohingya and burned their villages, as the United Nations, Refugees International, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the U.S. State Department itself, and many others have documented.
Also read:US asks Myanmar to create conditions for Rohingya repatriation
Over 800,000 Rohingyas fled the “genocidal violence” and Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas.
“Though Myanmar agreed to take back their nationals after verification, no Rohingyas returned home. There is a lack of sincerity from Myanmar side,” Foreign Minister Dr Momen told UNB recently.
He said the Rohingyas do not trust their government, and Bangladesh gave a number of proposals to build trust among them. “Myanmar didn’t say no to those proposals but no proposal was implemented.”
Also read:UN adopts resolution for urgent solution to Rohingya crisis
Bangladesh is trying in multiple ways - bilaterally, multilaterally, tri-laterally and through the judicial system – to find a lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis.
“Myanmar is a friendly country. They aren’t our enemy. We’ve nothing against Myanmar. Myanmar must create a conducive environment as Bangladesh wants to see the return of Rohingyas to Myanmar in safety and security,” Dr Momen said.
Bangladesh proposed deployment of non-military civilian observers from Myanmar’s friendly countries -- Japan, China, Russia, India and Asean countries.
Also read:Rohingya crisis needs lasting solutions, says UNHCR
“Myanmar did neither say yes or no on that particular proposal,” said the Foreign Minister adding that Bangladesh also proposed visits of Rohingya leaders to Rakhine and Myanmar government officials’ visit to Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar to interact with the Rohingays.
In the process, Dr Momen said, there should be confidence building and the main objective of Bangladesh is to see repatriation of Rohingyas. “They must return home (Myanmar).
Responding to a question, Dr Momen said all countries agree that repatriation is the solution and any delay in repatriation might create instability in the region and beyond.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan has said Chittagong Port, historic gateway to Bangladesh, presents many opportunities for Turkish companies to invest.
He said prominent Turkish LPG company Aygaz A.Ş. will hopefully be the first one to do so.
The Turkish delegation led by Ambassador Turan recently met Rear Admiral SM Abul Kalam Azad, Chairman of Chittagong Port Authority and discussed various issues of interest.
Ambassador Turan visited Chattogram between January 9-12, the main port city and commercial hub of Bangladesh.
Salahuddin Kasem Khan, Honorary Consul General of Turkey, Kenan Kalaycı, Commercial Counsellor of Turkey, İsmail Gündoğdu, TİKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency) Dhaka Program Coordinator, and Gizem Aydin Erdem, Second Secretary and Press Counsellor accompanied Ambassador Turan during his visit.
Ambassador Turan met with Mahbubul Alam, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry and its Board of Directors.
Bilateral trade relations and investment opportunities were discussed, said the Turkish Embassy on Wednesday.
“Our delegation toured the newly built impressive World Trade Center building.”
Turkey will explore the opportunity to become a partner country at one of the next editions of Chittagong Trade Fair.
On the same day, visiting Chittagong University of Engineering & Technology and its Shamshen Nahar Khan Hall, built by AK Khan Group in 2020, Ambassador Turan met with Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Mohammad Rafiqul Alam and spoke to the faculty members on the various possibilities of academic cooperation with Turkish universities.
On the second day of his visit, Ambassador Turan visited AK Khan Penfabric Company Limited (AKPEN) Factory, observing first-hand an exemplary project driving economic development in Bangladesh.
He also planted a tree in the factory garden symbolizing friendship and solidarity between Turkey and Bangladesh.
Turkish delegation also visited COATS (BD) factory, where the yarns produced in AKPEN are dyed and shipped to ready-made garment factories across the country.
COATS shows impressive commitment to Sustainable Development Goals and employs IoT technologies to increase productivity and inclusiveness.
Ambassador Turan, together with TİKA Dhaka Programme Coordinator İsmail Gündoğdu and other members of the delegation visited Shah-e Jamee Masjid, a heritage of the Mughal Empire, serving the Muslims of Chittagong since 1666.
Turkey’s late President Süleyman Demirel visited the mosque on March 26th, 1997 and gifted chandeliers to be used inside the mosque.
He was then visiting Bangladesh to attend the Silver Jubilee along with Yasser Arafat and Nelson Mandela.
Ambassador Turan held a productive meeting with Zahirul Alam Dubash, Chittagong Development Authority Chairman, exploring ways to improve cooperation between Turkey and Bangladesh in city planning and infrastructure building.
Significant development projects are in the pipeline in the city which may attract investment from Turkey.
The delegation led by Ambassador Turan also visited Nazmiye Demirel Health Clinic, renovated by TİKA.
Turan emphasized the importance of health services during COVID-19 and urged the Chittagong City Corporation to use the whole building for that purpose.
TİKA will soon complete the refurbishment of the Health Clinic.
During their visit to AK Khan - UCEP Technical School and A.K. Khan & CRP Chittagong Center, Turkish delegation learned about ongoing projects in skills development and in rehabilitation of the disabled persons. Impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the staff, Turkish Embassy will explore ways to collaborate in education and health fields through these successful institutions as well.
On the way back to Dhaka, Ambassador Turan visited Atatürk Model High School in Feni district, named after Turkey’s Great Leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1939.
Speaking with teachers and the administration of the High School, Ambassador reaffirmed once again Turkey’s sincere appreciation and gratitude for the historic gesture by the people of Bangladesh towards the Turkish people.
Public settings, such as schools, childcare centres, nursing homes, hospitals and correctional facilities and all other canteens of public institutions, can play a key role in ensuring people are provided with healthy food and helping prevent the 8 million annual deaths currently caused by unhealthy diets, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday.
A new WHO Action framework for developing and implementing public food procurement and service policies for a healthy diet aims to increase the availability of healthy food through setting nutrition criteria for food served and sold in public settings.
The action framework also aims to reduce preventable diseases and deaths from high consumption of sodium and salt, sugars and fats, particularly trans fats, and inadequate consumption of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit.
“Public places that serve the entire community, including our most vulnerable populations, must be places where healthy diets are promoted not discouraged,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“Now is the time for governments to lead by example through ensuring that the food served or sold in public settings contributes to healthy diets and saves lives. No public funds should be spent on food contributing to unhealthy diets.”
Consuming a healthy diet from pre-birth to the last days of life is vital to prevent all forms of malnutrition as well as diabetes, cancers and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
The new action framework serves as a tool for governments to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate public food procurement and service policies that align with the core principles of healthy diets as outlined in existing WHO recommendations: limit sodium consumption and ensure that salt is iodized;
limit the intake of free sugars;
shift fat consumption from saturated fats to unsaturated fats; eliminate industrially-produced trans fats; increase consumption of whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts and pulses; and ensure the availability of free, safe drinking water.
Healthy public food procurement and service policies set nutrition criteria for food served and sold in public settings.
These policies increase the availability of foods that promote healthy diets and/or limit or prohibit the availability of foods that contribute to unhealthy diets.
Policies can cover the entire process of purchase, provision, distribution, preparation, service, and sale of food to ensure each step meets healthy criteria.
A number of countries worldwide have already taken steps to promote healthy diets in public facilities.
In Brazil, the National School Feeding Programme requires 30% of the budget to be used to purchase food from family farms, and requires menus to be based on fresh or minimally processed foods based on the region's sustainability, seasonality and agricultural diversification.
To improve the health of children, the Republic of Korea established Green Food Zones that regulate the food available within a 200 metre radious of schools.
In these zones businesses may not sell food that that falls above a set threshold for calories per serving, total sugars and saturated fats.
“Governments worldwide have a responsibility to lead by example by serving and selling food that improve the health of their people,” said Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies.
“This action framework is an opportunity to make healthy food choices the default choices at a large scale.”
In September, the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 will launch bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food, delivering progress on all 17 SDGs.
WHO is the UN anchor agency for Action Track 2 aiming to shift to sustainable consumption patterns and facilitate a transition of diets towards more nutritious foods that require fewer resources to produce and transport.
The world’s governments have already made multiple commitments to end all forms of malnutrition, including obesity and diet-related NCDs such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.
This Action Framework helps reach targets that fall under the Sustainable Development Goals of ending malnutrition (SDG 2), promoting health and wellbeing (SDG 3) and promoting sustainable public procurement practices (SDG 12) by 2030.
Bangladesh will participate in India’s Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 26.
A contingent of 122 proud soldiers of the Bangladesh Armed Forces departed for India in a specially sent IAF C-17 aircraft, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The Bangladesh Armed Forces contingent comprises soldiers of the Bangladesh Army, sailors of the Bangladesh Navy and air warriors of the Bangladesh Air Force.
This is the third time in India’s history that any foreign military contingent has been invited to participate in this National Parade at Rajpath in Central Delhi.
It is especially significant as the year 2021 marks 50 years of the Liberation War, through which Bangladesh emerged as a vibrant nation, free from the yoke of tyranny and oppression, said the High Commission.
The Forces which fought and bled together 50 years ago, will now proudly march down the Rajpath.
The Bangladesh contingent will carry forward the legacy of the brave freedom fighters, who fought for freedom, justice and their people.
Also read:Chiefs of three services meet PM
A majority of the soldiers in Bangladesh contingent come from the most distinguished units of the Bangladesh Army, comprising of 1,2,3,4,8,9,10 & 11 East Bengal Regiments and 1,2 and 3 Field Artillery Regiments, who have the distinct honour of fighting and winning the 1971 Liberation War.
The Parade will be broadcast live, worldwide, on January 26.