They say their suffering intensified as apparel factory owners did not arrange any in-house transportation for them
Readymade garment (RMG) workers on the second day of strict lockdown say they faced many difficulties getting to work on Thursday.
They included transportation shortage, higher fares, overcrowded transport, as well as frequent harassment at police check-posts.
Speaking to workers and union leaders from various parts of the city, they said their suffering intensified as apparel factory owners did not arrange any in-house transportation for them.
Allegations were also made regarding lack of adherence to health directives and related protocols inside the factories, not to mention an overall lack of necessary arrangements in many factories.
Babul Akhter, president of Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF), said at least 20% of workers of a factory use public transport to get to work. They have been suffering the most due to the lockdown.
“They are forced to go to work on foot to save their jobs. The government instructed factories to arrange transportation for their workers using their own resources, but not a single factory followed that instruction,” Akhter also said.
Moreover, the workers of most of the factories are still negotiating with owners about the arrangement of transport for them, as the federation has no scope to discuss the matter with the government or Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). The owners have declined to arrange any transportation for the workers, he added.
Industry insiders said that although the first day of the lockdown was a government holiday, Pohela Boishakh, the second day witnessed several industrial establishments remaining open.
As a result, the traffic and crowd surged in the morning hours, while a steady flow of apparel workers were seen going to their factories in groups and on foot, beginning as early as 6:30am.
Sources from various factories reported lax supervision for enforcing the health directives, given to prevent getting infected with Covid-19, which has seen a sharp and deadly rise in recent times.
As part of the precautionary measures to maintain social distance, some factories have fixed the arrival and departure times of workers in four to six stages.
Earlier, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said that most of the workers live in the vicinity of their respective factories, so there will be no need for separate vehicles for the workers.
The government issued a gazette notification announcing a set of restrictions to be followed during the nationwide weeklong strict lockdown starting from April 14 to curb the staggering Covid-19 surge.
But factory owners demanded to keep the industries open during the strict lockdown. The government agreed to let factories remain open on the condition that health and hygiene rules will be followed strictly and transportation will be arranged for the workers.