The global apparel market is projected to grow in value from 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020 to about 2.25 trillion dollars by 2025, according to Statista. The industry employs millions of workers worldwide.
Clothes and shoes produced in countries in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe or other parts export them mainly in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia. To ensure labor rights manufacturing and importer both countries are equally responsible.
Historic May Day was observed across the world on 1st May with the slogan ‘Invest now in flexible occupational safety and health systems’. The slogan was set following the impact of COVID 19 that killing thousands of people worldwide along with labor.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out globally, the readymade garment (RMG) manufacturing sector was one of the top industries to get hurt severely by this Coronavirus.
As the second-largest apparel exporter in the world, Bangladesh’s RMG export came almost to a standstill as the country’s two main RMG export destinations the US and Europe were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally, a huge amount of apparel orders was on hold or canceled by the buyers which led great economic crisis along with massive job loss.
However, many Bangladesh textile and apparel makers offered their highest effort to ensure their workers’ safety. In the beginning, factories worked with reduced capacity to ensure social distancing in the factory.
Following strict maintenance of WHO COVID-19 health guidelines, many factories ensured close monitoring setting up a disinfection tunnel for employees and checking temperature for each employee while entering in the morning.
No safety measure will work properly, if the people are not fully aware and understand its seriousness. That is why many millers arranged to deliver awareness speech on Covid-19 through the public address (PA) system during working hours.
Wearing masks in a public place is one of the major safety measures in COVID-19. However, for workers, it is not possible to buy this scarce equipment regularly. For this reason, many factories provided face mask – KN95, N95, surgical mask, cotton mask – to their workers.
Earlier, the Rana Plaza building collapsed in 2013 raised question about workplace safety and workers’ rights. Here also Bangladesh RMG industry gave a great effort to transform the industry into safest industry for the workers.
There is a gap between trade union expectations from factory owners, however, the effort RMG manufacturers made is very encouraging and appreciable.
Historic May Day is expected to inspire governments, workers, consumers and employers to move forward unitedly to transform the country’s economy. As apparel industry is a highly labor-concentrated sector, to ensure economic transformation investing in occupational safety and health system is essential.