(BGMEA) yesterday urged its members to close garment factories till April 4 amid deteriorating coronavirus situation in the country. In an open letter to its members, BGMEA President Rubana Huq urged garments owners to close their factories to avoid the risk of coronavirus spread amid continuous cancellation of orders from foreign buyers.
In her letter, the BGMEA President said, “On the occasion of the Independence Day and National Day, our Prime Minister has given us some directions. She called for some conscious steps for the safety and well-being of all.”
“The prime minister directed us to stay at homes to discharge our responsibilities at this critical juncture. As the RMG is the largest industry of the country, we should set an example by following the directives of the prime minister,” said Rubana.
“To follow the directions, I hope the factory owners will close their factories,” she added.
In a separate statement, the BGMEA chief said the factories that are planning to make PPE are encouraged to remain open and their workers can move for work. When asked about the BGMEA chief’s message, owner of an RMG unit, preferring not to be named, said that they have received the letter.“However, the letter was a request and it did not order us to close factories. We will take a decision in this regard after holding discussions with other owners,” he clarified.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a Tk 5,000 crore stimulus package for export-oriented industries including the RMG to fight the impact of coronavirus on the economy. “I’m declaring a stimulus package of Tk 5,000 crore for export-oriented
industries which could only be used for paying salaries and allowances of their workers and employees,” she said in her address on the eve of the Independence and National Day 2020. This money will be used to pay the salaries and allowances of the workers and employees only.
When coronavirus outbreak disrupted global supply chain and led to cancellation of orders and delay in shipment, the BGMEA had turned to the government for help.
“Thank you Prime Minister for your endless empathy for our workers and industry,” BGMEA President Rubana had expressed in an immediate reaction.
Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of readymade goods after China, earns the majority of its foreign currencies from this sector, which employs more than four million people, mostly women.
So far, 959 factories have reported that 826.42 million pieces, $2.67 billion worth of export, have either been cancelled or held up, affecting an estimated 1.95 million workers.
Until now, Bangladesh has recorded a total of 44 Covid-19 cases. However, 11 of them have already returned home after recovering fully, taking the number of active cases to 33.