In the face of severe criticism, BGMEA urged all garment owners to close down the factories
A huge number of garment workers have been asked to return from factory gates, with announcement of reopening factories on April 12 instead of April 5.
The factories made the announcements, using mics and hanging notices on their gates, as workers came back to join work on Sunday morning.
Despite the government order to close down all organizations and transport services to stem the spread of the coronavirus, garment owners decided to reopen the factories from Sunday, following which huge number of workers returned back to Dhaka on Saturday.
In the face of severe criticism, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) urged all garment owners to close down the factories again.
Workers said they went back to their hometown after the factories were closed down on March 26. On April 3, they were asked to return to work on Sunday and were threatened to be fired if they failed to do so.
In fear of losing their jobs, most of them have walked and some managed trucks or covered-van to get back to work. After so much trouble when they reached there, they were asked to return as the factories will reopen on April 12.
The garments also announced to provide salaries to the workers on the reopening date.
Babylon Garments Limited in Mirpur 1 hanged a notice which said: “This is to inform all officers and workers that the factory will remain closed till April 11 and reopen on April 12. Everyone is requested to be present on the reopening date.”
The garment’s Senior Officer (admin) Maksuda Khatun said: “I came to work to know that the garment factories have been closed down. So, we are asking workers to go back home and remain safe. The factory will reopen on April 12 and they have been asked to join on that day. This decision is being implemented by following orders from the authorities.”
Requesting anonymity, a policeman said the decision was really inhumane. "Now, we have to work really hard to make them go back home. Later, everyone will say we have ill-treated the workers."
Similar scenarios were seen in front of the several garments in Malibagh’s Chowdhurypara area. Workers who came to join work are returning back now. However, these garments have arranged soaps and sanitizers in front of their gates for workers to wash and sanitize their hands.
Asma Akhter, a garment worker, said: “I live in Comilla’s Chauddagram area and have to walk most of the way back to work as no transport services are available. We came to work in the morning to see that the factory is closed down, so, why did we have to suffer so much?
“What will we eat now? We cannot go back to home again.”
Another worker, Masuda Akhter said: “After receiving a call from the factory supervisor on Saturday, I walked all the way back to work from Narshingdi. Now, my legs have swelled up.
“The factory is closed, where should we go now? They must provide us with transport to go back home as there is no point of calling us and making us go back like this.”