Garment manufacturers in Bangladesh are supposed to reopen their factories at the last week of this month date on April 26, to save the sector from economic collapse, as they said.
BGMEA president Rubana Huq said while talking to local news media, “We have decided to open our factories from April 26 as our back is pushed to the wall.”
“We will call back our workers and start production, otherwise we cannot survive,” she said.
“Already we have faced cancellation of work orders worth US$3.5 billion.”
Replying To the question of ensuring the health safety matter of the garment workers from the COVID-19 pandemic,she described that necessary measures for monitoring the health conditions of the workers will be ensured but they will also have to maintain necessary precautions at their homes.
It is not possible on our part to arrange accommodations of such a large number of people, she added.
she also described Bangladesh’s main competitors in the sector, including Vietnam and Cambodia, keep their factories open despite the coronavirus pandemic.
RMG sector accounts for around 84 per cent of the country’s $40 billion exports and generates employments for four million workers.
Referring to the payment of workers’ wage she said, “We are taking loan from the banks to pay their salary but ultimately we have to carry the burden.”
Responding to a question why BGMEA always seeks government aid during a crisis, she said, no garment owner has liquidity to pay three-month salary to the workers. ‘For example, I have to pay Tk 150 million as monthly salary to my workers and if the factories remain closed for three months, I have to pay Tk 450 million,” she added.
More over commenting on the decision, Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, said there is no alternative but to reopen factories. But it should be in phases, he added.
“At first, they can reopen the factories which have work orders. And after evaluating the situation for some days, they can take next step,” he added.
He also suggested reducing the number of workers in a shift to maintain Covid compliance.
Dr Mansur argued that the country like Bangladesh cannot afford western-style lockdown as “we have a large number of people who cannot survive if they are out of work for long.”
And due to resources constraints, it is tough for us to feed this huge population of around 50 million.
On the other hand, Around fourteen thousand container loaded with raw materials of garments industries been laid down at the Chittagong port. If these containers were released, the port would have been perfectly normal under the Corona situation,said the authority.The port authorities today issued a letter to business organizations on Wednesday to release the containers.