In Bangladesh's readymade garments sector, 97.5 per cent factories don't have trade unions.
A comprehensive survey on RMG sector conducted by Centre for Policy Dialogue also found out that the workers' organisations continue to remain in either weak or non-functional in the garment factories.
CPD research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem led the team that conducted the survey by collecting data from 3,856 factories having 3.6 million workers. Of the factories, about 50 per cent are found to be small, 42.5 per cent are medium and 7.4 per cent are large.
The survey report was presented at a seminar titled: ‘Conference on Transformation in the RMG Sector in Post-Rana Plaza Period’ at a hotel in the city on Thursday.
While presided over the inaugural session of the seminar, CPD chairman Rehman Sobhan, said that a global consultation is required for social improvement of the RMG workers who should be given the most credits for success of the garment sector.
He said the government and parliament can play the vital role for the improvement of the situation by ensuring the sharing of profit for the garment workers as there is now prevailing an unfair and unjust situation.
He said that one-third of the parliament members are garment owners but added that he does not know how many trade union leaders are parliament members from the RMG sector.
He said Rana Plaza incident was a result of the severe competition of the local factories to sustain in the global market.
He urged Saber Hossain Chowdhury, the president of the Inter-parliamentary Union and also a member of the current parliament and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Ministry of Textile and Jute to pursue the issue to draw the global attention for social improvement of the garment workers.
Speaking at the seminar as chief guest Saber Hossain Chowdhury said Rana-plaza incident was a wake-up call for the RMG sector. ‘But now we don't want a second wake-up call’.
He said the RMG sector has done exceptionally well in the post-Rana Plaza period. But the garment owners and government have to be pro-active to do better. ‘We have to take the future challenges to achieve the $50 billion export target by 2021’.
FBCCI president Shafiul Islam Mohidddin admitted that there is lack of trade union activities in the RMG sector but said that workers welfare committees in the factories are working to protect the interest of the workers.
He said 70 per cent profit in the RMG sector is taken away by the brands and buyers for which local factory owners always remain under pressure to sustain in the global competition.
He said in the post-Rana Plaza period most of the factories were transformed into compliance factories while now owners are trying to convert them into green factories.
He mentioned that about 1200 factories had to face closure in the post-Rana Plaza period.
The FBCCI chief said the factories should allow the trade unions as Bangladesh signed the ILO convention.
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre president advocate Montu Ghosh said all the elements of the RMG sector is imported from abroad except the men and machines.
He said the factory owners have no attention to improve the working and social condition of the workers.
‘Most of the workers are subjected to rough behavior of top management in the RMG sector’, he alleged.
He said the government formed a wage commission about 5 years ago but the report has not been published yet.
He also urged the FBCCI chief to play an active role to reinstate the terminated workers in Tongi area for which garment workers staged demonstration in Uttara area.