JILAF held a national workshop in Bangladesh on January 13, 2015, for the SGRA (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network) project. The workshop was attended by 18 core members promoting the project in that country, including Secretary General Sirajul Islam of the International Trade Union Confederation’s Bangladesh Council (ITUC-BC). The participants summarized activities in fiscal 2014 and engaged in intensive discussions and confirmation regarding the activity plan for fiscal 2015.
At the start of the workshop, ITUC-BC Secretary General Sirajul Islam delivered an opening address, and then JILAF Deputy Secretary General Ryo Saito, speaking on behalf of the organizers, explained the results and issues of the SGRA Bangladesh project in fiscal 2014. He also expressed concern about the recent political instability in Bangladesh.
Next, former ITUC-BC Secretary General Chowdhury Repon delivered a fiscal 2014 activity report, describing how 78 informal-sector workers (“network members”) had been able to successfully complete vocational training programs (sewing, calico production, and welding; see photos). He highly praised the fact that organizational experience had been gained in providing specific assistance to network members. The participants voiced opinions and requests regarding the need for improvements, such as (1) the method of selecting network members; (2) contents of the life support seminar and production of a pamphlet providing information on livelihood improvement; (3) the method of JILAF-led vocational training (place, gender ratio, and response to injury, illness, etc. during training); and (4) effects in proportion to the budget. JILAF gave appropriate replies to these comments.
In light of these activities in fiscal 2014, JILAF Deputy Secretary General Saito then proposed an activity plan for the SGRA Bangladesh project in fiscal 2015. The participants shared their recognition that measures to support the establishment of a mutual-aid organization focusing on vocational training, employment, and work should be put on track and that the further strengthening of grass-roots assistance is essential. Specifically, constructive discussions took place for about an hour on such topics as (1) the method of skill development training scheduled to be provided in the outskirts of Dhaka by the Center of Excellence for Leather Skill (COEL); (2) the need to train new working committee and regional working committee members and collaborate with ILO resources; (3) JILAF-led higher-level vocational training (sewing, calico production) and the manufacture and sale of high-quality products; (4) the concept of a cooperative society based on mutual assistance; and (5) employment and work mediation by the Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF) and marketing for SGRA shops. Following these discussions, the participants unanimously approved the activity plan, which included expansion of the project in Dhaka.
Finally, ITUC-BC President Mr. Anwar Hossain gave a summary of the workshop and declared that related persons would strive together toward the further strengthening and development of the project in the next fiscal year.