It is unthinkable that out of the total workforce estimated at 6.35 crore, only 4 per cent get pension or retirement benefits. The remaining 96 per cent of the work force, as New Age reported on Tuesday, includes farm hands, apparel workers, other private-sector factory workers, construction workers and day labourers. Non-payment of retirement benefits adversely affects the post-retirement life of the workers who do not get pension or retirement benefits. As Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, a platform of labour organisations, says, because of profit motives, most employers have a propensity to rule out payment of proper wages. It is, therefore, not surprising that they refrain from paying retirement benefits to workers although non-payment of retirement benefits is tantamount to violation of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 that makes it mandatory for employers to pay gratuity to all workers. All this is a testimony to the fact that exploitation of workers by the owners of private sector industries has reached the furthest limit.
The Bangladesh Employers’ Federation says that formal-sector workers alone were entitled to get gratuity and that he is not sure whether retirement benefits and gratuity are paid to all. The labour law makes it mandatory to pay ‘gratuity’ equal to at least last 30 days’ wage for each year of service to any worker with nine years’ service and it is also legally binding on employers to ensure that a worker with more than 10 years’ service gets gratuity equal to 45 days’ wage for each year of service, to be calculated on the basis of the last year’s monthly wage. The workers of the industrial sector are not allowed pension at the time of retirement except that only an amount of gratuity is provided. In the absence of pension, workers and their families after retirement face financial constraints as they become physically and mentally weak for old age. They hardly get jobs elsewhere. They along with their dependants remain in financial insecurity throughout their old age. Worse still, the government lacks the initiative to enforce the law to see that all labourers get retirement benefits and employers comply with the law in complete adherence to all rules so that not a single member of the workforce is exploited. One can hold responsible the pervasive commercialisation pursued for decades by successive governments which, seemingly, has resulted in this kind of avarice on part of a large section of the employers. Commercialisation is a policy that allows the government to shrug off its responsibility to see whether all rules are being abided by the employers.
The government needs to take expeditious steps to ensure that all workers are paid their pension and other retirement benefits in accordance with the law after retirement.