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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Garment workers in the dark about jobs

Update : 07 Apr 2014, 08:09 PM

As more and more factories continue to be found structurally flawed and face resultant suspension orders, jobs of an increasing number of workers have remained at stake.

On the basis of Accord’s and a buyer’s inspections, 10 garment factories have so far been asked to suspend their productions. Nine of them employed a total of more than 11,000 workers.

The factories were located in Dhaka and Chittagong. Two of them however were told to resume production after reducing loads on the floors while others were asked to just suspend production and details will be told later.

“Production suspensions put both owners and workers at a difficult state. We cannot pay the workers as business gets halted,” said a factory owner.

Another factory owner who also faced suspension said final decision about the payment of workers’ during the temporary closure would be taken after detailed engineering assessment of the building.

“The production of our factory was suspended immediately after the instruction of Accord’s inspection review panel,” said Md Abul Akter, managing director of Men’s Apparel in Chittagong.

“But a detailed engineering assessment of the building would be conducted again and decision about the building’s fate will be taken then. The matter of workers’ wages will also be taken following that assessment,” he said.

According to BGMEA and factory owners, a total of 11,230 workers were employed in nine factories.

Owners want buyers’ contribution to the remediation works of the buildings and the payment of workers’ wages in the interim periods.

“If the buyers contribute 50% of remediation cost and wages of workers, it would be possible to relocate the factory in another building,” BGMEA vice president Shahidullah Azim told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

“Otherwise it would be very tough for factory owners to restart production,” he said.

He preferred relocation to retrofitting old buildings as cost would be same.

“We can build another factory building by the expense estimated for remediation works.”

According to the BGMEA leader, rules should be introduced by the government to ensure basic salaries for the workers during suspension times.

He alleged that the buyers were fulfilling their commitment of providing fund for retrofitting works and workers’ wage.

Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, said as the remediation is a new issue in Bangladesh, so stakeholders have to take initiatives so that not a single worker becomes jobless.

He said: “I will put the matter to steering committee meeting to be held on April 9-10 in Dhaka.”

Wishing anonymity, owner of one of 10 factories said the initiative by the global retailers to improve safety standards at the country’s RMG sector was a good one but they took some “controversial decisions” like in the case of Liberty Fashion.

The Liberty Fashion was detected as flawed by the Accord inspection, although BUET team certified the factory as “okay,” he said.

“The Accord should be pragmatic as their decision can even turnish image of a factory and thus destroy the business leaving workers in danger.”

On February 20, the Accord, a platform of 150 European retailers, launched the first phase of inspection and inspected over 225 factories for fire and electrical safety and over 180 factories were inspected for structural safety.

On the other hand, the Alliance for Workers Safety in Bangladesh had inspected 305 factories and found no faults.

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