Awaj Foundation Awaj Foundation

Feminist Participatory Action Research on contractual workers in RMG sector

Duration of project

September 2017 – current


Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)



This project is part of APWLD’s regional program to advance women’s labour and human rights in Asia Pacific by increasing the capacity of grassroots women’s rights organizations to author evidence-based community research and be vocal and effective policy advocates for labour rights, human rights and just development.

Precarious work, such as contractual or piece-based rates, in the RMG sector is an issue that is seldom discussed. Employers use this practice to reduce costs by shedding ‘permanent’ staff and replacing them with “casual workers” and “temps”. These workers are deprived of rights and benefits such as paid sick leave, maternity leave, healthcare and employer contributions towards pension or old age support. This particularly impact women workers as they are deprived from receiving any maternity leave or benefits.

The RMG sector in Bangladesh has been employing temporary, contractual workers for a long time. While there is no precise data, it is estimated that around 5% of the workforce are precarious workers. Often, garment factories keep workers in temporary, contractual status for years just to avoid the cost of benefits. Moreover, due to the precarious nature of their employment, these workers can be coerced into working longer hours, accepting lower pay, speaking up against unsafe working conditions or unjust treatment and prevented from joining a union.

This action research project is investigating the conditions of precarious workers along four dimensions – 1. wages, 2. occupational safety and health, 3. harassment and workplace violence, 4. freedom of association and 5. benefits and leave. Based on the findings, it will generate policy recommendations and action plans to improve the conditions of precarious workers in the RMG sector in Bangladesh.

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