Child labour in dry fish sector considered as hazardous work

With the goal to fulfil UNGA’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, the government should consider child labour in the dry fish sector (DFS) as hazardous work, reports BSS.

They informed that the child workers in dry fish sector are facing different health related risks and are deprived of education due to poverty. With a view to eliminating hazardous child labour by 2021, the government has already announced some 38 sectors as hazardous for children considering professional health and safety issues.

Talking to BSS, Labour and Employment Secretary KM Ali Azam said the government is making its best efforts to eliminate hazardous child labour from the country by 2021 to ensure rights of children to build a healthy nation. He informed that they have a plan to expand the hazardous list as per the decision of the Tripartite Consultancy Committee (TCC) meeting.

Inspector General of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments Shib Nath Roy said out of the 38 hazardous sectors, the government is putting special emphasis on eight hazardous sectors in the current year. “We are also thinking of including the child labour in dry fish sector in hazardous list. In this regard, we will meet stakeholders of the sector at Cox’s Bazar soon. After the meeting, we will take decision to this end,” he added.

At a workshop held recently in Cox’s Bazar, Project Director of the Child Labor Improvement in Bangladesh (CLIMB) Project under WINROCK International, AHM Zaman Khan said the number of child labour is increasing alarmingly in various risky sectors, including dry fish village, in the Cox’s Bazar area.

“If we cannot eliminate the risky child labour, worthy citizen will not come from the poor family in future,” he added. Civic Engagement and Capacity Development Specialist of the CLIMB project Md Tanvir Sharif said despite many successes of the government and national and international organizations in various labour intensive sectors, child labour in DFS still requires more attention as it is one of the worst forms of child labour.

“Children working in this sector are exposed to hazardous chemicals, saline water for hours and work in adverse working condition. They work more than nine hours in hazardous environment without any protective gear. And as such experience skin diseases and respiratory problems. More importantly, the children have less attendance in schools,” he added.

He informed that around 2,900 children are working at the six dry fish villages in Cox’s Bazar Sadar and Moheshkhali upazila which is 20 percent of the total workforce. The villages are Thakurtala, Ghotibhanga, Khurushkul, Chowfoldondi, Sonadia and Najirartek. “Around 2,800 children are working only at Cox’s Bazar’s Najirartek village, the largest dry fish producing village in the country as well as the South Asia,” he added.

Bangladesh Center for Communication Programme (BCCP) organised the three-day workshop from February 4 at a hotel in the Cox’s Bazar tourist area. Among others, Mentoring and Evaluation Specialist of the CLIMB project Md Khirul Islam and Assistant Director (Training) of the BCCP Badal Haldar also spoke at the workshop.