During the COVID-19 pandemic, 87 percent of Dhaka city workers lost their jobs in transport, shops and hotels, and restaurants due to the lockdown. Seven percent of the workers who lost their jobs are still unemployed and their average income has decreased by 8 percent. The data came from a research report by the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies-BILS titled “Study on the status of social protection and job security of private-sector workers; experiences amid Covid-19 pandemic and way forward”.
The report was presented at a research briefing with the media on January 13, 2022 at BILS Seminar Hall, Dhanmondi, Dhaka. BILS Deputy Director (Research) Md. Manirul Islam presented the findings of the study. BILS Vice Chairman Amirul Haque Amin, Director Kohinoor Mahmood, and Nazma Yesmin were also present at the briefing session.
BILS conducted the research from April 5 to August 10, 2021. According to the research report out of the 87 percent job losers, 95 percent of workers are from the transport sector, 83 percent from shops, and 82 percent from hotels and restaurants. Some 93 percent of job losers were reinstated after lockdown. 7 percent of the workers are still unemployed. However, part-time jobs in these sectors rose as high as 215 percent during the lockdown period, the survey revealed.
On the other hand, 73 percent of working days declined in three sectors during the lockdown with the transport sector losing the highest 92 percent working days. In the aftermath of the lockdown, however, the workload has increased, and working days and working hours have increased.
According to the survey, the average income of these three sectors’ workers dropped by 81 percent during the lockdown. Transport workers saw 96 percent income decline and hotel-restaurant workers lost 83 percent of their income. Before the lockdown, a worker had earned Tk 13,578 per month, but it came down to Tk 2,524 during the lockdown. Again, the income surged to Tk 12,529 after the lockdown. There is a deficit of 8 percent income even after the lockdown.
The deficit between the worker families’ income and expenditure was 77 percent. Transport workers’ families saw the highest 97 percent deficit while it was 46 percent among retail shop workers. At that time, 20 percent of workers managed their living costs by selling properties, decreasing food intake, and sending their under-aged children to work. Some 80 percent of workers met their living costs through borrowing and spending from their savings. After lockdown, their savings declined by 64 percent, and the number of workers able to save money declined by 50 percent.
According to the survey below 1 percent of workers of these three sectors received government incentives. These include low-cost food aid and cash. According to the study, 36 percent of workers have been vaccinated against COVID and 64 percent are still unvaccinated.
BILS made 10-point recommendations, including preparing a full database of private-sector workers, introducing identity cards for all employees, creating an institutional framework to help workers during natural disasters, providing corona vaccine, and providing compulsory insurance facilities.