BNP on Thursday demanded the government formulate a 'National Standards Act' to ensure proper compensation for the workers who are killed and injured in different accidents in their workplaces, including mills and factories.
“When an incident happens and we raise our voices for a few days, and then all fall silent. So, for a permanent solution, we propose enacting a National Standards Act with outlines of how the killed and injured workers will get compensation and what action will be taken against the owners after any factory accident,” said party standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan.
Speaking at a press conference at BNP Chairperson’s Gulshan office, he said this law will have necessary provisions and directives so that it can help reduce fire and other accidents in mills and factories.
On Tuesday, a BNP delegation, led by Nazrul, visited Sajeeb Group’s Hashem Foods factory in Narayanganj where 52 workers were burnt alive in a massive fire last week.
Nazrul, also a noted labour leader, said people go to work in mills and factories to earn their livelihoods. “If people have to die prematurely while working there, then it’s not a factory, it’s a deathtrap. No state can accept it. It’s the responsibility of the state to ensure safe working places for workers. We hope the state will fulfill that responsibility."
Referring to newspaper reports, the BNP leader said, Sajeeb Group has taken over Tk 2,000 crore bank loan, including Tk 993 crore by Hashem Foods. “But the workers of this factory had been on a movement before the fire incident as they were not given their salaries and overtime allowances for the last two months. “Partial payment was supposed to be made on July 5, but it was not done.”
Amid such a situation, he said, workers died in the fire at Hashem Foods factory and the relatives of the victims returned empty-handed. “Such inhumane act is a despicable crime and condemnable incident.”
Nazrul said the factory owner provided some workers with their June month salaries under pressure on Wednesday, but it is uncertain whether the rest workers will get it timely.
He demanded the Hashem Foods factory owner pay the salaries, dues, overtime allowance and festival bonus to all workers immediately.
About his Tuesday’s visit to the fire-ravaged Hashem Foods factory, Nazrul said the factory was not set up following the national building code.
He said 49 bodies were found on the 3rd floor of the factory as the gate of the floor was shut.
He urged the government to unearth the reason behind the closure of the gate through an investigation and take stern action against those responsible for the fire.