97 RMG workers infected with COVID-19 last month: BGWS

Staff Correspondent | Updated at 10:42pm on May 07, 2020

A total of 97 readymade garment workers have infected with COVID-19 last month and 10 among them have died of the disease or with the symptoms, said Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Solidarity on Thursday.

The data were compiled from various reports appeared in various media, including 25 newspapers, from April 9 to May 7, the organisation said in a press release.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Rubana Huq, while asked for her comment, said the data compiled by BGWS were baseless and she protested against it.

BGWS said about 90 per cent of the infected workers were below 35 years, and 47 per cent of them were female.

The organisation’s president, Taslima Akter, said, ‘The real number of infection and death is much higher as many of the infected persons were not tested and many hide their cases to avert social humiliation.’

The organisation said that infection sprayed among RMG workers in 24 districts, including Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur.

At least 25 per cent of the infected workers live in Savar and 27 per cent live in Narayanganj, said the report.

The organisation said that the situation became worse among the workers as they were concerned about their livelihood instead of taking care of their health during COVID-19 outbreak.

It said that workers had to go for demonstrations and to join works only to save their lives and livelihood.

Workers were even forced to return to their factories walking hundreds of miles when the factories were opened without ensuring transport for the workers during the emergency period, it added.

BGWS urged the government and employers to reconsider their decision about reopening of factories amid coronavirus pandemic.

It put forward seven demands, including steps to ensure health safety of workers if they continue production, free and quality treatment for workers if any more get infected, compensation for victims and full payment of all workers.

About the BGWS data, Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies general secretary Nazrul Islam Khan said, ‘RMG workers were much exposed to COVID-19 because of mismanagement in handling the situation of the government.’

The government and the employers are not concerned about the safety of the workers, said Nazrul Islam, also the chief adviser of Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Shramik Dal.

The BGMEA in a statement said that only 0.16 per cent of the total infected people were RMG workers.