The statement came after the BGMEA president’s remarks about layoffs in the industry were widely criticized
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Saturday said its president Dr Rubana Huq did not “announce” anything about job cuts in the industry from June.
The BGMEA president rather casually stated, during a webinar on the industry earlier in the week (the recording is available for everyone to make their own judgement), that job cuts from June would be an “unexpected reality” which everyone must accept.
Amid widespread criticism, the apex body of the country's apparel industry released a statement claiming that the media did not present the matter objectively, reports UNB.
The Bangladesh Confederation of Labour (BCL), comprised of the direct stakeholders in any such occurrence, objected to the statement by the BGMEA president on Friday on grounds of “an irresponsible” attitude for having talked about prospective layoffs so lightly as inevitable, as if to normalize it.
“As an organization, we have no scope to make such an announcement. The BGMEA President expressed her deep concern over the decline in employment and possible layoffs,” reads the media statement sent by BGMEA Acting Secretary Maj (retd) M Rafiqul Islam.
According to BGMEA, the industry has seen a 14% decline in growth in the first ten months of the current financial year (July 2019-April 2020) which it says is the most negative growth figure for the industry in the last five years.
Moreover, within the period of May 1 to May 20, the RMG industry recorded a whopping negative 55.7% growth, BGMEA said.
RMG orders worth over $3 billion have been cancelled since March this year, they mentioned.
The BGMEA Secretary noted that there have been examples of factories running at 35% capacity, adding that even the larger factories are not able to use more than 80% of their capacity.
The data for the month of June suggests RMG factories are continuing production activities using an average capacity of 55%, as per BGMEA.
Currently, 1926 BGMEA-enlisted RMG factories are operational in the country as 346 have been shut down in the last two months.
“If the situation continues, rest of the factories will either shut down one by one or work at low capacity,” reads the statement.
The BGMEA expects both the owner and the worker will respect the labour law if any factory is forced to lay off employees.
According to McKinsey & Company data, the global garments sector will see a 30% decline in sales revenue in 2020 due to Covid-19. Consequently, Bangladesh will lose approximately 10 billion dollars in RMG export.
Bangladesh’s RMG industry helps earn around 83% of the export earnings that the country counts annually.
Bangladesh was eyeing to earn $50 billion through exporting apparel products which is now more than $32 billion every year.
The government of Bangladesh has announced a $588 million stimulus package for the RMG sector to pay wages which employs more than four million workers, mostly women.