Government authorities later extended the shutdown, which includes the transport system, until Apr 11
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has strongly criticized the readymade garment factory owners as they put pressure on their workers to join workplaces on the back of the government’s order a shutdown of all offices and workplaces from Mar 26 for 10 days to stem the spread of the virus.
Government authorities later extended the shutdown, which includes the transport system, until Apr 11.
Amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus, around one hundred readymade garment factories were opened in Savar and Ashulia of Gazipur, ignoring the call of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) for a shutdown.
Thousands of workers, who had left their workplace and gone home after the government announced the shutdown from March 26, returned to their workplace yesterday following instructions of their employers.
In a statement issued to the media on April 5, TIB said the role that the garment factory owners played in their workers’ journey home and their return to workplaces was an account of indecisiveness.
TIB said, ignoring the national security and safety of its people, a large number of garment factory owners who decided to keep their plants open despite the risk of contagion of Covid-19, must be held accountable for their action.
Workers say they have joined work as they were fearful of losing jobs and were hoping to get salary. They, however, said the factories are taking safety measures to avoid coronavirus threats, TIB said in the statement.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, said: “In an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the government has extended general holidays across the country. In this regard, the prime minister's strong statement was well expected.”
He said: “As public health officials have identified the next two weeks as very risky, the government authorities instructed all to stay home unless it was an emergency.”
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called for strict and unbiased enforcement of the Prime Minister’s pledge that no irregularity shall be tolerated in the government’s response to the Covid 19 crisis.
Referring to credible media reports quoting several factory owners, Dr Iftekharuzzaman said that no words were enough to exonerate factory owners who have taken this unbelievable course of taking workers’ rights and the public interest hostage, seeking government funds as outright grants, rather than refundable loans with a negligible service charge.
“It is also shocking that although the relevant, and some other ministers as well as some public representatives are from the RMG sector, the rights of workers and the public interest have been violated so brazenly.”
“Question may be genuinely asked if there are vested interests within the government who are operating to hold the Government hostage to promote their narrow self-centeredness in the Corona-Covid driven national crisis. We call upon the prime minister to identify such elements and take firm action,” the statement said.
BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association also asked owners to follow the government’s call for temporary closure of factories.