Unrest in the garments industry


Labour unrest in Ashulia has lead to the shutdown of 59 readymade garment factories. The reason behind this shutdown, without any rowdy protests by the workers, is hardly understandable. Keeping this industry closed means losses for the owners, the workers, and all concerned.  The government, BGMEA and labour representatives must immediately resolve the stalemate.

It is true that this highest earning export sector has the lowest paid workers. The workers are demanding TK 15, 000 minimum wage, safety measures and other facilities.  In December 2013 the minimum wage was set at TK 5,300. But since then there has been inflation and a rise in the cost of living. According to labour laws there is scope for raising the minimum wage within three years.

The solution to the problem does not lie in closure and arrests. There needs to be negotiations over wages and other facilities. The government must place pressure on BGMEA in this regard. After all, the salaries of government officers and employees have been increased. This has pushed up prices of essentials in the market. There is justified need to readjust wages under these circumstances.

The government industry workers need to work in basic humanitarian conditions. Anything less may even turn the foreign buyers away. Everything should not be seen as a conspiracy. The workers are not the enemy. It is unacceptable that the owners have locked the factories despite the workers wanting to return.

According to Prothom Alo reports, the factory owners have been increasing the work load and have also been reluctant to pay due compensation for laid off workers.

Enhanced wages and better living conditions automatically increases the workers’ performance. There needs to be a trilateral understanding  between the government, the owners and the workers to reach an amicable solution.

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