Improving nutrition of RMG workers key to sustainable RMG industries: discussion

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:42, Jun 24,2021


Improvement of nutrition of the readymade garment workers can be one of the key competitive factors for the sustainability of RMG industries of Bangladesh, said speakers in a virtual workshop titled  ‘Coordinated Strategy and Collaborative Action Plan for Workforce Nutrition’ in Dhaka on Thursday.  

The event was organized by Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network Bangladesh, a platform chaired by the ministry of industries and co-convened by Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and World Food Programme, said a press release.

Health services division additional secretary Kazi Zebunnessa Begum attended the workshop as the chief guest in the programme chaired by labour department director general Goutom Kumar.        

Labour and employment affairs ministry joint-secretary Md Humayun Kabir, Industries ministry joint secretary Al Amin Sarker, Institute of Public Health and Nutrition line director SM Mustafizur Rahman and GAIN Bangladesh country director Rudaba Khondker, among others, spoke.

Dhaka University’s Institute of Health Economics associate professor Shaifun N Shimul presented one of the keynote papers at the event.

During the event, the findings from three studies related to mapping exercise for coordinated and collective actions on workforce nutrition, assessment of market systems around RMG factories and the value proposition for establishing fair price shop was disseminated.  

One of the key findings is that a formal meal plan including wages which provide means of buying nutritious and safe food, storing home-made food safely, and clean dining room can significantly improve workers’ morale, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity, the press release said.

Most factories do not have regulatory bindings on provision for paid breastfeeding breaks, it said, adding that the needs of the breastfeeding mothers and their new-born children were not commonly prioritized.

Another key finding was that RMG workers lead a hectic lifestyle, and therefore, they prefer food items that require a minimum effort and can quickly be processed and cooked.

As a result, the release said, food items like eggs, noodles, snacked potatoes are frequently consumed by female RMG workers. The small shops around the RMG factories sell a lot of counterfeit items that can pose a significant health risk to RMG workers.

It was also found that establishing fair price shops can save 11-14 per cent of RMG workers’ monthly income, save 2 to 3 hours’ time daily and provide access to affordable, safe and nutritious food, the release added.

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