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BATB donates LWF to gain benefits against its workers

BATB donates LWF to gain benefits against its workers. British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) annually donates on Labor Welfare Foundation (LWF) under the Labor Ministry and appointing the Labor Secretary as independent director of the company to gain some business interest and creating a positive image for the company. Remarkably, BATB has donated worth TK 308 million to the Labor Ministry in the last 6 years (2012-17). But the matters are exaggerative on mass media in a crafty manner, which indicates that BATB is founded for labor welfare, not selling tobacco products.

Similarly, BATB buying facilities against labor interest from Labor Ministry in exchange of donations. On September 21, 2016 by issuing a circular, BATB has been released from obeying Section 100, 102, 104, 105 and 114 (1) of the Labor Law for ‘Public Interest’ under certain conditions. And exploiting the flexibility, BATB has made daily working hour to 10 hours in a day instead of eight (08) hours and has set weekly holiday for one day instead of one and a half day. Basically the flexibility aims to compel workers to work for a long time and how public interest in related with the flexibility is not comprehensible at all.

BAT has been accused of bribing, financing, and donating to increase its brand image and get illegal business benefits in some other parts of the world. Recently, information has been revealed on June of the year by Framework Convention Alliance – FCA policy brief that BATB had financed ILO. It has been found that BATB has been sponsoring for around 17 years in a project run by Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco Growing (ECLT) Foundation and supervised by ILO in some parts of Eastern Africa including Malawi. The 2016 sustainability report of BATB has also admitted the issue. Prior to that, a 2015 BBC report exposed that BATB had bribed the politicians and government employees of the Eastern African countries to get illegal benefits. Moreover, a recent investigative report on the Guardian has alleged that BATB has threatened, forced and even lodged cases against the governments of eight countries of the region to stop them taking life-saving decisions so that it could occupy the African market. The states are – Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Togo, Congo, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.

‘Smoking-free Bangladesh by 2040’ – a declaration from the Honorable Prime Minister would not be achievable unless the interference and aggression of BATB is not stopped.

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