Earlier, the government said that factories could be reopened by ensuring safety as directed by the Department Of Health
Apparel factories, whose production currently remains suspended under the general holiday until May 5, reopen on Sunday in phases and zone-wise as a measure towards keeping the economy afloat.
“In line with the decision of the task force formed to set factory reopening dates, factories located in Dhaka zone will be reopened on April 26 and 27,” a member of the task force, seeking anonymity, told Dhaka Tribune.
Last week, the government formed a task force headed by Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), to ensure a proper disbursement of the stimulus fund and to set reopening dates for the industry.
Earlier, the government said that factories could be reopened by ensuring safety as directed by the Department Of Health.
As per the directive, apparel factories located in the region covering Ashulia to Manikganj will reopen on April 28 and 29, while factories in Gazipur, Narsingdi and Kanchpur will run from April 30, said the task force member.
On May 2, factories located from Tongi to Mymensingh zone will reopen, he added.
Meanwhile, BGMEA President Rubana Huq told Dhaka Tribune that the factories would reopen through ensuring workers’ safety on a limited scale, in phases and zone-wise.
According to the directives of the BGMEA and the task force, factories will reopen only with workers who are living near them. Owners have been directed not to ask workers currently staying in their villages to return to Dhaka to rejoin duties.
“In the first phase, you (factory owners) are advised to ask only the workers who are living near your factories to join. Until further directives are issued, you are kindly requested not to ask workers currently in their villages to return to Dhaka,” the BGMEA said.
“If under any circumstances, workers residing outside return to Dhaka in an unsupported and irregular way, then the BGMEA will not be able to help you as an association in this regard”, it added.
“To keep the economy running, and considering the overall situation the BGMEA will advise you on the opening of factories. A zone-wise approach will be adopted to open the factories in a limited capacity,” said the directive.
“Your factory opening date will be communicated to you through email,” it added.
Owners asked not to retrench workers
The BGMEA and the task force also requested factory owners not to retrench any workers on humanitarian grounds.
“In the event of workers not returning to work, we have asked the owners not to terminate their employment and also directed them to ask the workers not to return to Dhaka amid risks,” Abdus Salam Murshedy, a member of the taskforce, told Dhaka Tribune.
They will join the factory when the countrywide shutdown is over and the situation is under control, said Salam
Since March 26, most RMG factories have remained closed as the country is under a shutdown to halt the coronavirus pandemic.
Trade bodies opt for factory reopening
Business leaders, economists and media persons voted for opening manufacturing factories and other business by ensuring safety to keep the economy running amid the countrywide shutdown to halt the coronavirus pandemic.
They came up with the onion at the discussion titled "How Do We Responsibly Open Logistics, Retail, Agriculture and Manufacturing Sectors Minimizing Covid19 Healthcare Risks?" organized by the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) on Saturday.
FBCCI president Sheikh Fazle Fahim presided over the meeting.
Former FBCCI president AK Azad, economist Ahsan H Mansur, BGMEA president Rubana Huq, BKMEA first vice president Mohammad Hatem and leaders from Newspaper Owners’ Association of Bangladesh, Sampadak Parishad, Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) were also present at the discussion.
Economist and executive director of Policy Research Institute Ahsan H Mansur said rather than opening the factories all at once, they should be reopened in comparatively low-infection areas and on the basis of workers' safety and other issues.