Leather goods workers getting health insurance benefits

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Footwear exporters have set out to bring all the workers in the sector under health insurance coverage by the end of this year.

Saiful Islam, president of Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association of Bangladesh, said 151 of their member companies have brought 17,000 out of 53,000 workers under health insurance coverage.

The main objective of the programme is to create awareness and let the workers know about the different aspects and advantages of health and medical insurance, he said.

Islam spoke at an event to distribute health insurance cards among the workers at the Centre of Excellence for Leather Skill Bangladesh Ltd or COEL at Shafipur, Gazipur.

COEL organises training for the workers and mid-level management on different issues.

The insurance will cover up to Tk 20,000 in hospital bills for the workers, who can either go to the 200 selected hospitals or can submit the vouchers for treatment for fund reimbursement.

The health insurance coverage is part of corporate social responsibility by the member factories of the association, as it is not mandatory under the country’s labour law. “If any factory fails to comply with the laws and rules, the association will not renew their membership certificates,” Islam said.

The leather and leather goods sectors have targeted to export products worth $5 billion by the end of 2021, he said.

In the first seven months of the current fiscal year, Bangladesh exported leather goods and footwear items worth $740 million, which is 12.5 percent higher than the same period of last fiscal year.

Mikail Shipar, secretary to the labour and employment ministry, said the export-oriented sectors have to follow compliance to gain consumers’ trust.

Leather goods and footwear became the second highest export earning sector after garments due to the efforts of the local entrepreneurs, Shipar added.

“Like the apparel industry, the leather and footwear sectors are also free from child labour.” Guardian Life Insurance will provide the insurance coverage.

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