Garment makers move to right labour wrongs

Share their steps with The Daily Star following international outcry
Against the background of growing concern over labour rights violation in Bangladesh, garment makers yesterday said they had taken the issue seriously and started to improve work environment and maintain compliance in factories. They said garment makers have already engaged the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) “Better Work Programme” to ensure labour rights. An international expert is now designing a framework of the programme.
Many factories have graduated participatory committees to take better care of workers. The participatory committees had the equal facilities of a trade union, said factory owners at a discussion with The Daily Star at the newspaper’s office in the capital.
The garment makers also demanded fair and quick investigation into the murder of Aminul Islam, labour leader of Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity. Recently, different rights groups and the US ambassador to Bangladesh have demanded a rapid investigation into the killing.
The issue of Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) also came up in the discussion. Garment makers said it should be dealt at the state level.
The factory owners also expressed grave concern over the recent labour unrest in the Ashulia industrial belt.
In June, the factories in Ashulia had to suspend production for 10 days. The owners said the disruption in production was a serious blow to the country’s image as the second largest garment maker of the world.
During the unrest, many buyers had threatened to shift their orders to other countries, said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Grament Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He said Bangladesh had improved a lot on labour standards and work environment. “The owners have come to realise that they must take care of workers for the sustainability of the industry.”
According to Mohiuddin, 600 garment factories in Bangladesh have participatory committees while the rest 5,500 registered factories have welfare bodies. “The participatory committees have been a platform for the workers where they can raise their problems.”
He said BGMEA was running two hospitals and 12 clinics for workers and many schools for their children. “Every factory has its own medical facility for workers.”
The BGMEA was now working with different development organisations to prevent diseases like tuberculosis and HIV AIDS among workers, he added.
“When Bangladeshi camel jockeys had returned to the country, we rehabilitated them. We have also employed the transgender,” said Mohiuddin, adding that they had introduced life insurance for workers.
The BGMEA will begin the second edition of its talent hunt from August 5. Last year, the event recognised 10 best singers from the RMG sector, said Mohiuddin.
“There has been significant improvement in owner-worker relationship which was not there even a decade ago. When it comes to work environment, we are better than Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Lesotho. But we cannot sell it,” said the BGMEA president.
The garment makers also pointed out that buyers should be ethical instead of looking for opportunities to force apparel makers to cut price.
Mohiuddin said although Bangladesh’s garment makers were doing a great job, their contribution was not promoted well. “We are failing to brand our country through a massive campaign,” he said.
He also said there was propaganda that international buyers are losing interest in Bangladeshi garment items. “It is not true. We have talked to the CEOs of major companies. They said they were still willing to buy products made in Bangladesh.”
AK Azad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said the international buyers operating in Bangladesh in a meeting with the labour minister last week had urged the government to increase workers’ wage by 10 percent to avert further unrest in the industry.
The buyers feared that the orders would not be executed if there was further violence in the RMG sector.
He said buyers were also concerned about the country’s political situation. “After the unrest in Ashulia, they are closely monitoring everything, including the political development.”
Fazlul Hoque, president of Bangladesh Employers Federation, blamed local influential politicians for the unrest in Ashulia.
He said they would sit with officials of ILO Dhaka office tomorrow to discuss the latest development regarding the Better Work Programme.
The garment makers said although the labour leaders regularly talked about establishing trade unions at the factories, there was no demand from the workers to do so at factory level.
He also questioned the role of labour leaders and urged them to play a positive role. “During the unrest in Ashulia, no labour leaders went there to ask the workers to stop the violence.”
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Exporters Association of Bangladesh, said Ashulia-based factories are of the ideal kind, where the managements strictly maintain compliance.
“Still, a majority of unrests take place there,” he said, calling for an investigation into the matter.
He also criticised the central bank for its recent circular on loan classification, which, he said, would hurt the industry.
Mohammad Hatem, vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said there was no congenial environment in Bangladesh to allow trade unionism at the factories.
“Our experience with trade union is bitter. About 130 factories started trade unions. Of them, 80 are now closed,” he said.
Annisul Huq, former president of FBCCI, said the country’s garment owners want a fair and quick investigation into the killing of Aminul Islam. “We want the killers of the labour leaders arrested.”
Mohiuddin said although Bangladeshi exporters paid the highest duties to enter into the US apparel market after Cambodia, the exporters are not receiving good treatment from the world’s biggest economy.
Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, also spoke at the discussion.

-With The Daily Star input

Related News

BMD predicts rain in Ctg, Sylhet today

News Desk : Amid the scorching heatwave, Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) predicted rain in Chattogram and Sylhet today. “Rain or thundershower accompanied by temporary gusty wind may occur at one or two places in Chattogram and Sylhet divisions in the next 24 hours starting 6:00pm on Monday,” said BMD. The weather may remain mainly ... Read more

Primary section in secondary schools to close too

New Desk : The government today decided to close the primary section attached with the secondary schools till June 8 due to the ongoing heatwave. The government also instructed the authorities to suspend the assembly session at all schools. Additionally, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher education (DSHE) instructed all the educational institutions not ... Read more

Hero Alom picks up nomination papers for Dhaka-17 by election

News Desk : Ashraful Hossain Alam, known as Hero Alam, will contest the by-election to the Dhaka-17 constituency, scheduled for 17 July, which fell vacant following the death of actor Akbar Hossain Pathan Farooque. He collected the nomination paper from the Election Commission (EC) office in Dhaka on Sunday (4 June). Hero Alom said ... Read more

Mob beats, stabs youth over Facebook post, 10 cops injured

News Desk : A shopkeeper was beaten and stabbed by a mob in front of Police Staff College in the capital’s Mirpur-13 yesterday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. A team of Kafrul Police Station rescued and sent him to Dhaka Medical College Hospital around 9:45pm, said Saddam Hossain, sub-inspector of the police station. “Someone ... Read more

Government primary schools will remain closed from tomorrow until June 8 due to heatwave

News Desk : Due to the severe heatwave in the country, the government has decided to keep all public primary schools closed from June 5th to 8th. The decision was taken considering the health safety of the children going to the schools, the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education said in a press release ... Read more

Community clinics will offer hypertension and diabetic drugs

News Desk : Drugs for hypertension and diabetes will now be available in community clinics across the country as part of the government’s plan to ensure primary health care in rural areas. The drug list update committee for community clinics has taken the decision in a meeting on May 14, 2023, according to a ... Read more

Odisha train accident: Identities of 2 injured Bangladeshis confirmed

News Desk : Two Bangladeshi citizens from Rajshahi and Bogura are among the injured in India’s one of the worst rail disasters in Odisha last night. Of the injured, Russel-uz Zaman, 27, from Rajshahi was a passenger of Chennai-bound Coramandel Express from Shalimar near Kolkata, a senior official of Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in ... Read more

NHRC, World Vision team up to stop violence against children

News Desk : World Vision, an international development agency dedicated to child welfare, and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to end all forms of violence against children and build a country free of child marriage. A MoU signing ceremony was held on 1 June with National Human ... Read more

Shyamoli building fire kills one

News Desk : A commercial building in the capital Shyamoli caught fire last night, killing one person. The identity of the approximately 45-year-old deceased could not be immediately confirmed. His body was recovered from the 17th floor of the 20-story Rupayan Shelford building, said Abdul Mannan, senior station officer of Mohammadpur Fire Station. The ... Read more

Metro to run from 8:00am to 8:00pm

News Desk : From now on the metro rail will run from 8:00am to 8:00pm six days a week. Mahfuz Rahman, manager of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), confirmed to The Daily Star that the metro rail started following the new schedule from yesterday morning. As per the new schedule, weekly closure of ... Read more

Biman fires captain for negligence

News Desk : Biman has fired Capt Dildar Ahmed Tufail for negligence in duty while captaining a flight on January 15. He was reportedly napping in the crew rest area, leaving the cockpit of the Boeing 777-300ER technically unmanned. A passenger had a heart attack during the overnight flight to Dhaka from Jeddah. Capt ... Read more

Noab demands withdrawal of tax, duties on newsprint

News Desk : The Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh has demanded the withdrawal of taxes and duties on newsprint in the budget for the fiscal year 2023-24. In a press release yesterday, Noab said it made the demands during a pre-budget discussion with the National Board of Revenue. The release mentioned that NBR Chairman ... Read more

E-toll to be compulsory on 9 bridges, 2 highways from November

News Desk : The government has made Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System compulsory at nine bridges and two highways from November. The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) issued a circular in this regard. According to the circular, the government has already installed automatic toll machines at those bridges and highways. The nine bridges are ... Read more

Boeing offers Biman its latest 787-10 Dreamliner

News Desk : After Airbus, the American manufacturer Boeing has now offered its latest model aircraft, 787-10 Dreamliner, to the Biman Bangladesh Airlines. The company sent a letter in this regard to Biman’s chairman recently which will be discussed in the board meeting on Tuesday, said Shafiul Azim, managing director of Biman. “As we ... Read more

Fishing, tourism banned in Sundarbans for 3 months

News Desk : To ensure safe breeding and movement of fish and wild animals the Forest Department will enforce a three-month ban on fishing and tourism in the Sundarbans that set to be effective from 1 June to 31 August. During this period, the movement of all types of vessels, including boats and fishing ... Read more

Biman to operate special flights from Dhaka for RU admission seekers

News Desk : Biman Bangladesh Airlines will operate three special flights on the Dhaka-Rajshahi route from May 29 to May 31 to facilitate journeys of Rajshahi University admission seekers. The RU admission tests will take in four shifts starting from 9:00am and ending at 4:30pm on May 29, 30 and 31. The flights will ... Read more

First hajj flight with 419 pilgrims leaves Dhaka on Sunday

News Desk : The first hajj flight, carrying 419 pilgrims, is scheduled to leave Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport for Saudi Arabia at around 3.20am on Sunday (May 21). “A Biman Bangladesh Airlines will operate the first hajj flight from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Jeddah on Sunday at 3.20am,” Biman’s spokesperson Tahera Khondoker told ... Read more

7 Bangladeshis make Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2023 list

News Desk : Seven Bangladeshis have made the list of ‘Forbes 30 Under 30′ Asia Class of 2023. The famous business journal, Forbes, first launched the ’30 under 30’ list in 2011, listing the thirty movers and shakers under the age of thirty. From 2016 to 2022, a total of 25 Bangladeshis were named ... Read more

Economic life of buses fixed at 20yrs, goods vehicles at 25yrs

News Desk : The government fixed the economic life of buses and minibuses at 20 years and that for goods-laden vehicles, including trucks and covered vans, at 25 years. In this regard, the Roads and Highways Division on Wednesday issued a circular which would be effective following a gazette notification. In 2010, the Bangladesh ... Read more

Fire hydrants will be installed in all DNCC markets, slums: mayor

News Desk : Mayor Atiqul Islam said fire hydrants will be installed in every slum and market under the jurisdiction of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) to deal with fire incidents. He made the announcement while inaugurating a fire hydrant in Sattala slum of Mahakhali in the capital on Thursday (18 May). He stressed ... Read more