App lets workers engage their bosses

Kutumbita's app aims to empower garment workers and foster better communication between them and their employers.
Kutumbita's app aims to empower garment workers and foster better communication between them and their employers.PHOTO: SHAHRIAR RAHMAN


BANGLADESH • The ready-made garment sector in Bangladesh employs more than four million workers, often under hazardous conditions. The collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, for instance, killed more than 1,100 workers.

Tech start-up Kutumbita aims to empower workers in the garment industry through an application designed to foster clear and equitable communication between employer and employee in firms which are too large for traditional communication channels.

Using Kutumbita's app, workers can log complaints with their supervisors - and attach pictures such as that of a blocked fire exit - access details about their salary and benefits, schedule training programmes, apply for leave and exercise their rights as employees of an organisation.

Management can use it to send out emergency alerts, as well as resolve complaints speedily and with transparency.

RMG manufacturer SQ Group has signed up nearly 13,000 employees as the first client of Kutumbita, and provided 3,000 handsets to its workers.

SQ is using Kutumbita's app to send notifications to workers, schedule training, accept leave applications, register complaints and conduct surveys.

Every employee of SQ has received an optional bundle, consisting of a free entry smartphone and a SIM card. It comes with an 18-month instalment plan so it is not a financial burden.

Mr Warisul Abid, ‎a director at SQ Group, said the app has enabled greater engagement with employees, lowering operation costs and enhancing productivity.

Kutumbita's country manager Shahriar Rahman said the company's "mission is to convert the non-desk workforce to first-time technology adopter and make sure they are heard".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'App lets workers engage their bosses'. Print Edition | Subscribe