Government inspection finds most RMG factories in sorry state
Mohosinul Karim

Most factories lack medical centres and rest rooms for garment workers, walking space and complaint centres

  • Workers sort clothes at a garment factory near the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, Bangladesh 
    Photo- AFP

The special inspection committee to oversee building structure and environment of the readymade garment factories has found that the apparel industries are beset with a wide range of irregularities.

The committee came up with its findings after a thorough inspection of RMG factories in Dhaka, Chittagong and on the outskirts of these two cities and submitted the report to the cabinet committee on Thursday. In the report, it cited three major findings, plus 11 specific recommendations.

The anomalies the investigation team found included shaky building structures, faulty wiring, absence of emergency exits, water reservoirs, fire extinguishers and effluent treatment plants.  

Most factories lack medical centres and rest rooms for garment workers, walking space and complaint centres while some of them did not have equipment properly installed.

The report found that the RMG owners hardly gave any appointment letters and leave facilities to their labour and paid optimum wages.

A random inspection of 227 readymade garment factories across the country by 11 sub-committees led by joint secretaries of different ministries prepared the report.

Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, chief of the special inspection committee, handed over the report to the cabinet committee on Thursday.

Handing the report, the minister told reporters the committee had completed its random inspection.

At first, individual reports were prepared, and later, they were compiled by the high-power inspection committee, he said.

But the jute minister denied disclosing the findings and recommendations, saying the committee had done its work and submitted the report.

The report will be analysed and finalised by the cabinet committee on RMG.

Wishing not to be named, some on the special committee told the Dhaka Tribune the 460-page report was prepared by random inspection of 227 garment factories in Dhaka, Chittagong and on the outskirts of the two major cities.

They said the report focused on all irregularities and problems facing the RMG factories.

According to the findings, the behaviour of industrial police is not also labour-friendly, and in most cases, police protect the interests of the RMG owners.

The inspection found that most buildings housing the garment industries were poorly constructed and not approved by Rajuk, and soil was not tested before the building construction.

Besides, the factories had much lack of congenial working atmosphere, it added.

As per the report, the RMG owners do not give the appointment letters to the garment workers and are reluctant to maintain workers’ registers and attendance books while the child labour are available in some factories.

The workers insurance system is absent in most RMG factories, it said.

The report added that most factories lacked designs of electrical wiring and the electrical works were not checked regularly.

The main switches of most factories were set up inside the factory which were the clear violation of rules. Even, the main switches of some factories were installed in the warehouses being too risky.

The committee suggested the government establish the garment industrial parks immediately, relocate the garment factories and allow housing RMG factories in those buildings constructed as per the rules and regulations.

It also advised the government to suspend the approval of those buildings constructed without consulting with technical experts.

The report also included the suggestion of submitting 10% annual profit of the factories to establish labour rights.

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