Promoting Decent Work and Acceptable Working Conditions in the Tannery Sector in Bangladesh

In 1950, the leather industry began its journey with 21 tanneries in the Hazaribagh area of Dhaka. After the independence, the industry flourished around Hazaribagh and 90 percent of the country’s tanneries had been located there. However, following the movement of environmental activists, the High Court order, and the government’s pressure, the tanneries were relocated to Hemayetpur, Savar in 2017. Before being shifted to Savar, around 220 tanneries had been there in the Hazaribagh area. Leather is one of the 15 sectors identified for generating national income, accounting for more than 3 percent of the country’s exports after the readymade garment sector which is in the second position in terms of foreign earnings. At present leather and leather products are being exported to about 53 countries of the world. However, tannery workers are facing many problems like job insecurity, clash with employers, poor OSH conditions & practices, health problems due to indecent working environment, fear of chemical reactions, and accident.

BLF is implementing this project since September 2018 in the Tannery Industrial Estate supported by The Asia Foundation with the goal to promote decent work and acceptable working conditions in the tannery sector in Bangladesh. The project has two objectives: (a) Increasing knowledge, awareness, and advocacy skills of workers and tannery supervisors on OSH and labour rights under Bangladeshi laws and (b) Increasing workers’ engagement to promote inclusive dialogue and reform in the tannery. The key strategies are: (a) Using training to increase the knowledge and understanding of OSH hazards and labour rights and improve workers’ advocacy skills and (b) Engaging a broad range of stakeholders to improve the working conditions and ensure tannery workers access to relevant services.

The major components of the program are:

  1. Improvement of workplace environment
  2. Capacity Development
  3. Awareness Raising
  4. Knowledge Dissemination

Out of 155 tanneries, this project intervenes covered 48 factories (unionised 23 and non-unionised 25) and total beneficiaries are 1,877 (Direct-581, Indirect-1,296). The key stakeholders of the project are tannery workers, leaders, and committee members of the employers’ associations, TWU, DoL, DIFE, labour rights NGOs and CSOs, associated trade union organisations, community organisations, factory representatives, local government institutions such as Union Parishad, Upazila Parishad, government institutions, Upazila administration such as UNO office, Department of Social Services, Department of Women Affairs, etc. BLF has tried to ensure the participation of at least 10 percent of female workers in different events of the project.

Related posts