If the factories are kept open, workers will remain in a disciplined environment and can be better supported against infections, he said
South Korea-based global conglomerate Youngone Corporation Chairman and CEO Kihak Sung has made an urgent call to the Bangladesh government not to shut the factories down to "avoid grave consequences."
If the factories are kept open, workers will remain in a disciplined environment and can be better supported against infections, he said.
The Youngone chairman also said the country's readymade garment (RMG) sector — the major foreign currency earner — has not yet recovered from the damaging effects of the first wave of Covid-19 and it now has to cope with the second wave.
Sung said the apparel factories had to operate with lots of difficulties and suffer huge financial losses last year.
The unplanned closure of the factories extending up to nine weeks made things worse. It hurt the country's image and undermined the confidence of some of the major buyers, he continued.
While the factories were in operation, they strictly followed proper health care measures and were successful in ensuring that their workers were well protected, the Youngone chairman said.
"And this was certainly true of all the Youngone factories. Compared to the situation outside, we only had to deal with a few Covid-19, thanks to the precautionary measures taken."
The Youngone chairman also said the situation was normal in the factories and Covid-19 positive cases were minimal.
Even affected workers, being relatively young, could come back to work in good health after two-three weeks of quarantine and healing, he added.
"This normalcy may be maintained if we can avoid closure of factories and long holiday. It may be mentioned that after every long holiday and extended closures, there has been an upswing in the number of Covid-19 cases."
He said if the factories are closed, workers will have to go back to their villages with every likelihood of either spreading the virus or getting infected by it.
Such a situation will add to the difficulties of the workers, the factory owners, the government and the country, Sung, also the chairman of the Korean Federation of Textile Industries, said.
When the RMG factories are trying their best to recover and survive in a highly competitive global market, any further closure of the factories will be extremely damaging to the economy, whereas, appropriate measures will help avoid the impending disaster, he said.
In Vietnam, where Youngone has a large number of factories, at no stage did the authorities order the closure of factories.
Ever since the Covid-19 outbreak, Vietnam restricted the movement of its citizens and meticulously enforced health safety measures instead of shutting down factories. This enabled the country to control the pandemic and minimise the damage to the export economy, Sung continued.
"The example of South Korea may also be taken into consideration. Public places like restaurants and shopping malls were opened for shorter hours but all factories and business organisations were functioning as usual, which is continuing till now," the Youngone chairman said.
He also requested the Bangladesh government to take appropriate measures which will be beneficial to the country and save the RMG sector from suffering another blow at a time when it is still reeling from the impact of extended factory closures last year.