40% factories hopeful of fully resuming operations
The Mapped in Bangladesh (MiB) project of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED), Brac University (BracU), has held a webinar on the state of the country’s garment industry.
The webinar, “State of the RMG Industry during the Pandemic: Is It on the Way to Recovery?”, was held on July 20. The discussions were based on the findings of a recently conducted rapid survey to address the operational status of export-oriented garment factories during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, said a statement.
Syed Hasibuddin Hussain, project manager of MiB, presented the details of the findings of the rapid survey, read the press release.
As per the findings, 1,850 (79% of the total survey participants) factories are currently operational, 286 (12%) factories are temporarily closed, and 198 (9%) factories are permanently closed.
Among the operational and temporarily closed factories (total 2,136 factories), 40.54% of the factories were found to be hopeful of fully resuming their operations after June 2020, while 25.14% said that they hoped to resume their operations partially, and 30.57% factories are uncertain.
Factories that are currently operational are using 92.1% of their workforce during the pandemic compared to normal times. Factories in Dhaka district are currently using 96.9%, Gazipur district 89% and Narayanganj district 94%, while factories from Chittagong district are using 92.2% of their usual workforce at present compared to that in pre-pandemic times.
As many as 1,707 factories (92.27%) reported they were only producing their regular products. Of the 143 factories that were found to have been producing face masks and/or PPE along with their regular products, 69 factories said that they were producing for the export market.
The majority of the member factories (98.61%) were found to have arranged some sort of training or briefing about Covid-19 for their workers, compared to 71.3% of non-member factories.
Factories that were members of any of the trade associations had a workers’ participation committee (WPC), and a safety committee, took a higher number of measures in the factory to prevent Covid-19 than factories that were non-members, did not have WPC, and did not have a safety committee.
Hussain also demonstrated the Covid-19 map (https://covid-19.mappedinbangladesh.org/) of MiB, which was developed from the MiB Rapid Survey. The map shows factories that are open amid the pandemic, factories that are making PPE/face masks and the current worker numbers of the factories.
The discussants at the webinar made several comments regarding the rapid survey.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), mentioned that non-member factories were being excluded from the purview of policy support in the country.
Mark Anner, professor of Labor and Employment Relations and Political Science, Pennsylvania State University, suggested a supply chain approach to look to the welfare of the vulnerable workers of the factories.
Shahidur Rahman, professor at the Department of Economics and Social Science of BracU, said this rapid survey was among the four research initiatives so far on the impact of Covid-19 on Bangladesh's RMG industry.
The webinar was moderated by Shamim Ehsanul Haque, assistant professor, Brac Business School of BracU, and chaired by Prof Rahim B Talukdar, CED adviser and MiB team leader, CED-BracU.