JILAF is implementing the SGRA project (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) with grants from the Japanese government (Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare). As entry and departure from Bangladesh had become impossible due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an online meeting of Bangladesh’s Central Roundtable linking Japan and Bangladesh was held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, to consider and discuss annual plans, specific activities, and other matters based on the fiscal 2020 project policy.
The online meeting was attended by a total of 15 people, including 10 members of the Central Roundtable in Bangladesh (representatives of labour, the government, employers, and the International Labour Organization [ILO]), as well as members of the JILAF Secretariat.
At the beginning, JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo gave an address in which he said, “Precisely in this difficult situation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, informal-sector workers, who are in a vulnerable position, are being pushed into even more dire straits. Especially in Bangladesh, Covid-19 infections are spreading at the moment, but I trust that the Bangladeshi government, labour, management, the ILO, and the SGRA cooperatives will come together and implement the project. JILAF will cooperate as much as possible.”
After self-introductions by the participants, General Secretary Nurul Islam Khan Nasim of the Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal (BJSD), a national trade union federation, then looked back on the project in fiscal 2019.
Mr. MASUD, the representative of the SGRA project in Bangladesh, then gave an explanation of project plans in fiscal 2020 and shared his vision of, while taking care of everyone’s health, establishing an occupational development training program for informal-sector workers, who have been especially hard hit by Covid-19, that looked ahead to the post-coronavirus era too (sewing of masks, etc.).
Furthermore, while conveying information about the difficult situation of workers in Bangladesh, who have been severely hit by the pandemic, the participants engaged in discussions toward improving the lives of informal-sector workers. As well as general agreement with the fiscal 2020 project plans, a representative of the employers’ organization spoke about efforts to increase job opportunities, and a trade union representative talked about strengthening vocational training linked with public health and the lateral dissemination of SGRA cooperative success stories.
Finally, JILAF Secretary General Ryo Saito ended the online meeting of the Central Roundtable with a wrap-up address.