The first wave of coronavirus pandemic hit workers in one out of four garments factories. On an average, workers remained absent for 25 days and 13 per cent of the factory owners had to lay off workers due to losses in business. However, the wages of the workers were duly paid.
These observations were made in a sustainability reporting study on Bangladesh’s garment industries. The study report, jointly initiated by Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Global Reporting Initiatives of the United Nations Development Programme, was released on 28 March at a Dhaka hotel.
The study indicates how Bangladesh’s apparel sector is doing in keeping with nine of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. The study was conducted on 47 garments factories.
Wasiq Jakaria and Sheikh HM Mustafiz presented the keynote papers during the study publication.
Zuena Aziz, the chief coordinator for SDG affairs at the Prime Minister's Office, UNDP's resident representative Sudipto Mukerjee and BGMEA president Rubana Huq, among others, also spoke.
In the concluding session, 47 garments factories were awarded for SDG compliance.
In the 2019-20 fiscal, at least 44,064 workers got employment at the 47 factories. The study found most of the factory workers were brought under health insurance. Moreover, the factories ensured maternity leave despite many challenges including the pandemic.
The study also found 15 per cent of the garments factories recycle water at production and washing units while 23 per cent of the factories harvest rainwater for industrial use.
The factories became energy-saving, reducing power consumption to at least 6 per cent in the 2018-19 fiscal compared to the previous fiscal, the study found.