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Production target depresses apparel workers

  • Published at 10:48 pm January 22nd, 2019
RMG workers
File photo: Apparel workers at a factory in Gazipur busy with their workload, as they often complain of hitting production target in tight schedule Dhaka Tribune

Several apparel workers claimed they feel mentally stressed due to higher target of production and extra working hours

Additional working hours and pressures for hitting production targets are causing workers of the $30.6 billion readymade garments (RMG) industry to suffer from several ailments, including illnesses and depression.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, several apparel workers claimed they feel mentally stressed due to higher target of production and extra working hours, which make them ill, leading to many to resign.

“As an operator, I have to work to reach target of 120 pieces per hour but I can do 110 to 115 pieces at most, which is higher than my capacity,” Munnujan (not her real name), a worker of Ha-Meem Group, in Savar, told the Dhaka Tribune.

Her regular capacity is 90 pieces per hour, which she can complete with ease, she added. But anything more than that takes its toll on her.

“After having such a workload, I cannot fully concentrate on my children at home, nor go to bed early afterwards,” she also said. 

Meanwhile, workers claimed that extra working hours is another burden for them, which leaves them in terrible physical and mental condition afterwards. 

“I have to work from 8 am to 9 pm. But during the recent New Year, the factory management increased production target without any advanced notice,” Taslima Begum (not her real name) of Arrival Fashion Wear told the Dhaka Tribune.

Currently, the daily target for an apparel worker is 1,000 pieces but factory owners often force them to work for extra hours after regular shifts, she added. 

Sometimes, workers’ unrest and demonstrations also inspire factory owners to increase production targets.

“After the recent unrest, the factory management increased workload due to losses in production,” said Mohammad Yasin (not his real name), a worker of Alpha Knit Apparels Ltd, told the Dhaka Tribune.

Over the years, workers have realized that increased workload and extra working hours are set by factory owners in the name of early shipment or as buyers’ demands, he added.

However, factory owners denied this allegation, when asked over the phone. They refuted saying they run production in line with the Bangladesh Labour Act 2013.  

“In terms of overtime or extra work pressure, we abide by the laws. Never beyond the law,” a high official of Alpha Knit, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune. If there is any allegation, they can complain to the BGMEA, he added. 

Psychologists opined that the higher targets and extra working hours bring mental illness and in long run, the workers lose productivity and leave their jobs.

“Higher work load or production target than the capacity gives workers a feeling of ineligibility and inefficiency at work, which makes them depressed,” Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman, a professor of clinical psychology at Dhaka University told the Dhaka Tribune. 

Additionally, use of abusive language at work by their line managers frustrates workers and depression grips them soon after, said Rahman. 

As a result, their family and social life become miserable, as they always remain aggrieved and misbehave with their family members, the psychologist also said.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said they did not have information about the extra working hours or putting pressure to hit higher targets.

“As an organization, we did not receive any complaints from the trade union leaders about the work pressures. We always discourage factory owners not to go overboard,” BGMEA vice president Mohammed Nasir told the Dhaka Tribune. 

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