Fatima, a 22 years old female garment worker with a trite face was walking down to enter her factory at Capital’s Mirpur area where she apprehend she is at life risk. “We requested our manager to give us leave so that we can go to rural home to avoid the Corona virus attack. But the manager told us if we go home we will lose our job,” Fatima told Business Mirror Sunday.
“You know Mirpur is now the central zone of the epidemic. Our president Rubana Haque is a female. But she does not treat us as her family member. If she does so she would give us leave,” The rebellious Fatima said
“Will she agree to join her daughter working together with us,” The rebellious Fatima said.
Like Fatmia about 5 million garment workers are at centre point of Corona pandemic here in Dhaka and adjacent cities as they have no minimum hygiene access as well they work and roam together like a folk.
When asked Rubana Haq said the BGMEA is relentless talks with the government for taking a decision of shutting down ready made garments in the capital city.
“We have three types of buyers who are placing different request to us. Some buyers asking us to stop production right now, some are requesting complete the on going one and then stop. Some others requesting us to continue production.,” Rubana told Sunday.
The government has not give us any solid direction in this regard, Rubana said adding that “ We are continuing talks with the government and hope that a solid decision may come this night or tomorrow,”
In Bangladesh, 4.5 million workers in 5,200 garment factories produce goods for export to the global market, principally Europe and North America. The Bangladeshi garment industry generates 80% of the country’s total export revenue. However, the wealth generated by this sector has led to few improvements in the lives of garment workers, 85% of whom are women.
The majority of garment workers in Bangladesh earn little more than the minimum wage, set at 8,500 taka a month (approximately $110).
As well as earning a pittance, Bangladeshi factory workers face appalling conditions. Many are forced to work 14-16 hours a day seven days a week, with some workers finishing at 3am only to start again the same morning at 7.30am. On top of this, workers face unsafe, cramped and hazardous conditions which often lead to work injuries and factory fires.
Since 1990, more than 1100 workers have died and several thousand more have been wounded in 50 major factory fires. Sexual harassment and discrimination is widespread and many women workers have reported that the right to maternity leave is not upheld by employers. Factory management also take steps to prevent the formation of trade unions, a right protected under the Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining ILO Conventions, which Bangladesh ratified in 1972.
The readymade garments industry acts as a catalyst for the development of Bangladesh. The “Made in Bangladesh” tag has also brought glory for the country, making it a prestigious brand across the globe.
The industry that has been making crucial contribution to rebuilding the country and its economy is none other than the readymade garment (RMG) industry which is now the single biggest export earner for Bangladesh. The sector accounts for 83% of total export earnings of the country.