Twenty-four garment worker union leaders and organizers in Bangladesh have completed a first-of-its-kind, in-depth training course on fire and building safety, conducted by the Solidarity Center and Selim Newaz Bhuiya, former deputy director of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense.
The 10-session course aims to equip union leaders with essential knowledge and skills on workplace safety. These workers will now, in turn, educate their co-workers and strengthen their unions’ ability to raise and rectify unsafe factory working conditions.
The training was supported under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Sanjida, a worker and newly elected woman union leader from Masco Industries Ltd. in Gazipur, said, “I am now a graduate of the fire and building safety course, which makes me very happy. By participating in this training program, I now know how to protect workers from fire and how to identify risks. I learned new skills that will help me to teach other workers and be a stronger union leader.”
In a ceremony concluding the training, 18 factory-level union leaders and six organizers received certificates in recognition of their hard work and new knowledge on workplace safety. These leaders are the first of 14 groups who will eventually complete the course and will go on to help their unions build effective occupational safety and health committees to raise workers’ safety concerns with their employers.
Speaking at the event, attended by U.S. Ambassador Dan Mozena and Bangladesh Labor Secretary Mikail Shiper, Solidarity Center Bangladesh Country Program Director Alonzo Suson said, “Workers around the world have found that, by forming unions and speaking with a collective voice, they are better able to ensure safer working conditions. These new union leaders will be able to take what they’ve learned back to their co-workers to make their factories better, healthier and safer places to work.”