Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA), two apex bodies of apparel and knitwear exporters, on 20 May vehemently condemned and protested frequent incidents of vandalism occurred at different garments factories in the name of movement for salary and bonus.
“Image of the garment industry is being tarnished due to vandalism in the name of movement in big compliant factories alongside small and medium sized compliant ones. If this situation goes on unabated, new entrepreneurs won’t be created and investors will be discouraged,” said a joint press release issued by the both trade bodies.
Leaders of the trade bodies are of the view that a vested quarter is engaged in creating anarchic situation in the industry by exploiting workers’ sentiment and said that infiltrators in the disguise of workers also joined the so-called movement.
According to the media report, demanding salaries and festival bonus before Eid-Ul-Fitr (the biggest religious festival of the Muslims), a group of workers staged demonstration and carry out vandalism in a garments factory in the capital’s Khilkhet area in the morning on Tuesday (19 May). Managing Director of the ill-fated factory ‘Centex Textile And Apparels Ltd’ Md Jashim held outsiders responsible for the incident due to which properties worth TK one crore had been damaged.
Similar incidents occurred in other RMG units leading the BGMEA and BKMEA leaders to feel worried. As the global COVID-19 pandemic rages on, many countries are in strict lockdown and fashion brands/retailers closed their shops, which led buyers and brands started to cancel their orders from Bangladeshi garment factories from the beginning of March. As per the latest data of BGMEA, 1150 garment factories lost more than 98 million pieces of garments order equivalent to US$3.18 billion.
Sadly, some Western clothing brands that agreed not to cancel orders due to the coronavirus epidemic are demanding price cuts of up to 90%. Some of the manufacturers are forced to accept such conditions. Amid such situation, BGMEA and BKMEA find incidents of vandalism ‘irrational’ saying that most of the factories’ owners are trying heart and soul to pay workers’ salaries and bonus as per the decision taken by the owners, workers and the government’s representatives.
Despite attempts to pay workers’ outstanding arrears, many factories are being vandalized, the trade bodies said. “It’s an ominous sign for the industry.”
To exemplify the reason behind delay in paying workers’ salaries, BGMEA and BKMEA said manufacturers are yet to receive the Prime Minister-announced loans.
Earlier, the premier announced TK 5000-crore package for export-oriented industry including Readymade garment (RMG) sector to tackle the Covid-19 crisis.
The trade bodies demanded the government take effective steps to prevent anarchy in the RMG sector, bring those responsible under trial and mete out exemplary punishment to them. They also hoped that law enforcing agencies will take more stringent measures to stop untoward incidents in the RMG industry.