Though the government has formed multiple teams to inspect workplace safety standards in the country’s RMG factories, most of the teams are not properly discharging their responsibilities, according to a study.
It was revealed in the study that 72.20% RMG workers in Dhaka and Gazipur and 81.20% in Narayanganj and Chittagong have never seen any monitoring team visit in their respective workplaces.
Manusher Jonno Foundation conducted the study with the support of European Union.
Dr Mahmudul H Sumon, an associate professor of anthropology at Jahangirnagar University, carried out the study, the findings of which were revealed at a program at Spectra Convention Centre in Dhaka on Wednesday.
He interviewed 770 RMG workers to generate primary data to conduct the study titled “Garments’ Workers and Rights: A Situation analysis of Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong.”
Addressing the program, Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director Shaheen Anam said measures should be taken to ensure the proper monitoring of workers’ rights and safety and to protect their dignity.
“We will be able to solve problems facing by RMG workers only if we can ensure accommodation and safe transport facilities for them,” she added.
State Minister for Labour and Employment, Mujibul Haque said monitoring and inspection by the government in each factory is not possible because lack of manpower.
“There is a big difference between what we see on paper and what is happing in practice. However, I think there is nothing to be worry about, as workers at least get their wages on time,” he added.
“Workers are not aware of their rights. Even, many literate people do not have any idea about their rights. Despite all these limitations and complexities, we are moving ahead,” Mujibul further said.
He, however, promised to take steps to form a wage board to fix a wage scale for all RMG workers before the next election that is slated for December this year.
The study shows that less than 5% of workers in Gazipur and Dhaka and 10% in Chittagong and Narayanganj are currently receiving their wages as per a pay scale fixed by a wage board.
According to the study, 72.70% of workers in Dhaka did not sign any job contracts while the remaining 27.30% workers said they have contract papers.
In Gazipur, 72.50 % of workers said they have identity cards issued by their employers, and 27.50% workers said they were not given any ID cards while joining the factories.
In Chittagong and Narayanganj, 40.51% of workers have contract papers, and the remaining 59.49% workers do not have documents on their job contracts.
A whopping 50% of workers do not get wages in the first week of month, and 29.70% of workers in Dhaka and Gazipur said their employers cut wages on various occasions in a year for reasons undisclosed. In Chittagong and Narayanganj, 40.80% workers reported pay cuts by their employers.
Over half of RMG workers in the four districts said they were not entitled to maternity leave and other benefits.
Because of lack of necessary safety assurance and other benefits, many workers said they are not willing to continue their jobs for a long period of time, and want to go back home in villages, Dr Sumon said.