Make Employment Injury Insurance a Reality

Workers in Bangladesh who are injured or killed in factory incidents that do not have the spectacular scale that made it newsworthy for an international public willing to put pressure on brands such as Rana Plaza, are often left without any financial compensation. For the families involved, these deaths are no less of a tragedy. Their right to full and fair compensation should not depend on the size of the factory incident, or the image of the buying brands. The establishment of an employment injury insurance scheme in Bangladesh is the only way to ensure that workers injured at the job or the families of workers killed at work receive the compensation they are entitled to.

Around 500 workers were injured and several dozens killed in the Bangladeshi garment supply chain since Rana Plaza. A “bridging solution” could establish a procedure for accepting and processing existing and future workplace injury claims in line with international standards, and delivering loss of income payments. This could be a practical stepping stone towards the implementation of a permanent employment injury insurance scheme.

In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse, agreement was reached between the ILO and the government of Bangladesh to build up a national employment injury insurance scheme. However up to this date there is not enough progress visible, while workers continue to be killed and injured in factory incidents.
 
 We are therefore urging the government of Bangladesh to

 - Table employment injury insurance legislation before the Eid or at least before the elections
 - Put a bridging solution/pilot in place before the end of the year
 - Implement employment injury insurance before the next Sustainability Compact review in 2019
 
 We are urging brands buying from Bangladesh to

 - Emphasize the importance of an employment injury insurance scheme to the reputation of the Bangladesh industry, and the full support that such an initiative has from the global buyers
 - Make clear that buyers recognize that although the cost of the scheme per worker is very low, that these cost may nevertheless need to be factored in to the FOB price for garments
 -  Clarify that this scheme does not represent a threat to the competitiveness of the Bangladesh garment industry, but rather enhances the reputation and sustainability of the industry
 -  Demonstrate that there is a willingness on behalf of the buyers to engage with the BGMEA and its members to discuss how the creation of such a scheme can be managed in a way that that benefits all stakeholders
 
The only barrier now to creating an Employment Injury Insurance scheme is the political will of the stakeholders to make it happen. It is important to demonstrate, both to the workers of Bangladesh and to those following this process from outside, that lessons have been learned following Rana Plaza and that the stated intention to make real and lasting change was genuine.

Background

The right to loss of income payments and medical care following a workplace injury has long been internationally recognized. ILO Convention 121 stipulates the standards for employment injury insurance, which should be delivered by the state and provide a lifetime pension to a worker or his or her family. Bangladesh has still not ratified the convention, but in 2015 the government of Bangladesh has committed to establishing a national employment injury insurance scheme according to its standards. Such a system is affordable and enhances the reputation of Bangladesh. There is however still significant work to do if Bangladesh is to develop the necessary institutional and legal mechanisms by 2020 as promised. It is imperative that legislation to put such a system in place is tabled as soon as possible and that the implementation of a system is started before the next (fifth) compact review next year.
 

The ILO explains: making employment injury insurance a reality

Infographic Employment Injury Insurance

Read more