SGRA Project in Bangladesh (January)

JILAF held a national workshop in Bangladesh on January 23, 2014, for the SGRA (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) project.
The workshop was attended by core members promoting the project in Bangladesh, including Mr. Repon Chowdhury, Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation’s Bangladesh Council (ITUC-BC). They summarized activities in fiscal 2013 and engaged in intensive discussions and confirmation regarding specific activities in fiscal 2014 and other matters. In fiscal 2013, the second year of the project, they realized that in order to improve and upgrade the living standard of informal-sector workers in Bangladesh, it is essential to build and strengthen support systems at a more grassroots level toward self-supporting vocational training and the management of mutual-aid organizations.
At the beginning of the workshop, Mr. Repon gave a report of activities in fiscal 2013, highly evaluating the fact that 151 informal-sector workers had been able to safely complete various vocational training programs (sewing, welding, computer technology, etc.) despite the frequent outbreak of hartal (shutdown or general strike) and that organizational experience had been gained in providing concrete assistance to informal-sector workers. Regarding improvements, among other things he pointed out that (1) management skills of Regional Working Group (RWG) are still weak in Bogra, Khulna, and Chittagong, where the project is being implemented; (2) it is necessary to give more consideration to aptitude in the selection of vocational training program participants; and (3) it is necessary to increase public awareness of the SGRA project in Bangladesh.
In response, JILAF Executive Director Hisashige Danno commented, “While there is certainly room for various improvements to be made in the implementation of vocational training, I believe that the project can be promoted and results achieved in the future. Regarding management skills of RWG at the community level, we are aware that there is a lack of education to make them understood vision and mission of the project. Since it is necessary for the RWG to have a good knowledge of the project as a whole, including know-how concerning the management of vocational training and the establishment of cooperatives, it is desirable to have them participate in SGRA training of trainers so that they can become core steering committee members in the future. As for the selection of participants for vocational training and livelihood improvement seminars, I would like to ask the Working Group to urgently compile rules. In fiscal 2014 we should think about how to increase awareness of the project.”
Finally, JILAF Field Projects Director Toshiyuki Wakatsuki gave an explanation of the fiscal 2014 activities and schedule. It was also explained, and unanimously confirmed, that (1) the number of RWG members would be increased from 6 to 12 persons in each region; (2) all RWG members would participate in training of trainees (to learn about project principles and the establishment of cooperative societies and SGRA shops) and livelihood improvement seminars; (3) the number of vocational training subjects would be increased from five to eight; and (4) the strengthening of cooperation among the government, labour, and management is essential in order to realize employment and business development for the participants.

Schedule

DateContents
01/22Wed5th Working Group meeting
01/23ThuNational workshop