Many factories breach health guidelines

Workers in Gazpiur, Ashulia hold demo to join work

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:43, May 03,2020


Many of the readymade garment factories are running their operations breaching health guidelines with the number of coronavirus infected workers slowly increasing in the sector.

At least 12 workers of the 10 apparel factories were already infected after the units reopened last week, said labour leaders.

According to the guidelines of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, all units were supposed to run with only 30 per cent workers in the first phase during April 26-30, but most of the factories engaged more than 50 per cent workers.

Many of the manufacturers engaged 70-90 per cent of their workforce violating the COVID-19 guidelines, showed BGMEA inspection report.

Savar Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer on Thursday in a letter to Upazila Nirbahi Officer said that the coronavirus infection in the Upazila was being increased due to the reopening of the garment factories.

Following the detection of seven workers infected with coronavirus in Savar, he claimed in his letter, the rate of infection was low in the area before reopening of factories.

The HFPO recommended closure of the readymade garment factories to protect the outbreak of the virus.

Savar UNO Parvejur Rahman told New Age that the committee on coronavirus protection on Saturday held a meeting on the issue and decided to monitor the garment factories strictly so that they complied with the health guidelines. 

Bangladesh Garment Shramik Sanghati president Taslima Akhter and general secretary Julhasnayeen Babu on Saturday demanded that the details of corona-infected seven workers in Savar should be made public and the factories should be put under lockdown.

The organisation claimed that factory authorities were trying to conceal information that the workers were working in the factories with infection.

Earlier, at least four RMG workers had tested positive with the coronavirus after they resumed work at their respective factories in Rangpur, Jashore, Chattogram, and Pirojpur.

When asked, the BGMEA officials said that the factories took necessary steps for treatment of the infected workers and quarantined the suspected workers along with those who came in close contact with the infected. 

The labour ministry on Saturday allowed garment factory workers to come back to Dhaka and its adjacent areas to join work.

Inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments in a letter to the BGMEA president said that if any worker needed to come back to Dhaka to join work he/she would have to show factory identity card.

Industrial Police sources said a total of 2,592 industries, including 1421 RMG and textile units remained open on Thursday. Of them, 912 were non-RMG units and 259 were BEPZA listed units.

Of the reopened factories, 987 are members of the BGMEA, 305 are registered with Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and 129 listed with Bangladesh Textile Mills Association.

New Age correspondent in Gazipur reported that workers were compelled to return to the industrial belts to protect their jobs amid the pandemic but the factory management did not allow them inside the factory when they reached at the factory gate in the morning.

Industrial police said that among others the workers of Ananta Casual Wear Ltd and Auko Tex Ltd in Gazipur and Rose Intimates Ltd took to the streets to press their demands including allowing them in production, job security and full payment of their pending wages.

The agitated workers occupied the highways for hours to press their demands.

Gazipur Industrial Police superintendent Sushanta Sarker said that 873 out of 2,072 factories resumed production by Saturday.

Workers of a number of the factories went to the factory in the morning and started demonstrations when the factory management did not allow them to enter the factory premises.

Police said that some workers misunderstood that the management had terminated them but actually they were not terminated.

The workers went back when police informed that they were not terminated rather for their health safety only 30 per cent of the workers were allowed inside the factory.

Workers said that during COVID-19 pandemic many of their coworkers were terminated on different plea. They could not depend on the words of factory management.

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