Workers differ with employers over coronavirus infection

Rashad Ahamad | Published: 01:09, Jul 04,2020


According to official data the number of COVID-19 infection among workers of readymade garment factories is surprisingly low. Employers claim this as their success, while labour leaders say that the figure is so low because workers neither have an easy access to the testing facility nor they have the ability to get tested.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Rubana Huq on Thursday said that only 346 RMG workers contracted coronavirus so far and 202 of them had already recovered from the disease.

Roughly 40 lakh workers are employed in the labour-intensive sector.

Labour leaders said that there was a hoax in the information.

Industriall Bangladesh Council general secretary Chaina Rahman said that the BGMEA hid the real information or did not get it.

‘The infection among only 350 workers is quite unbelievable while most of the factories are running productions flouting healthcare guidelines,’ she said.

She also said that the real scenario would be revealed by the end of July when they would unveil their data they were collecting from factories.  

Public health expert and former president of Bangladesh Medical Association Rashid E Mahbub said that he was unaware about the extent of infections among RMG workers.

He, however, said that detection depends on testing.

How many workers were tested was still a big question, he added.

Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers’ Federation general secretary Babul Akhter also dissented from the BGMEA data.

He said that many factory managements had sent their workers with COVID-19 symptoms to their houses on leave.

He also said that workers were not interested in having tests and those who tested positive hid the information fearing that that would cost them their jobs.

‘Many workers with COVID-19 symptoms were not tested and these are probably the reason behind the low number of infections among the workers,’ said Babul, who also a leader of IBC affiliated union.

Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre executive president Kazi Ruhul Amin said the workers have poor access to the COVID-19 testing facilities though they were facing serious trouble in maintaining safety rules in their workplaces and houses.

BGMEA public relations committee chairman Khan Monirul Alam Shuvo told New Age that they had opened a COVID-19 testing laboratory in Gazipur with a capacity of testing 180 samples capacity per day.

He claimed that infection among the garment workers was lowest because the factories were maintaining health guidelines strictly.

He claimed that workers had enough opportunities for COVID-19 testing as they had dedicated a lab with equal excess to other government facilities.

Bangladesh is the second largest garment producers in the global market. Bangladesh garment sector supplies products to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Italy and other western countries.

BGMEA said that 2.28 million garment workers were affected due to coronavirus pandemic as work order of 3.18 billion compelling shut of over 450 factories.

Want stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up to exclusive daily email