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18,000 RMG workers fired in 2 months, DIFE urges owners to stop

  • Published at 11:46 pm June 7th, 2020
Garment workers
File photo: Garment workers return from a workplace as factories reopened after the government has eased the restrictions amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak in Dhaka Reuters

The lay-offs have taken place despite a tripartite agreement between the concerned parties

The Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE) on Sunday urged apparel and textile sector leaders to take necessary steps to stop the sacking of workers.  

According to the latest DIFE data, a total of 67apparel and textile factories fired 17,579 apparel workers after Eid-ul-Fitr, despite a tripartite agreement not to layoff and sack workers.  

In a letter on June 7, Inspector General of DIFE Shib Nath Roy asked the presidents of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporter Association (BKMEA), and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association to stop the sackings.

He took the move following a black and white request from several trade union leaders. 

After Eid-ul-Fitr, a significant number of apparel factory owners have sacked workers. According to data from the office of the deputy inspector general of DIFE, 67 apparel and textile factories located in Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong have fired 17,579 workers, said the letter.

On June 1, about 2,450 workers of Tanaj Fashions and Viyellatex Garments demonstrated by blocking Dhaka-Mymensingh roads. Later, with the help of local administrations, industrial policy and the Textile Department, the unrest was temporarily controlled, it added.

“Considering the present situation and to stop unrest in industrial areas, we are urging you [apparel leaders] to take necessary steps to stop the firing of workers as per the tripartite agreement,” said DIFE.

In a Tripartite Consultative Committee meeting held on April 25, apparel makers agreed not to terminate workers and declare layoffs of factories.

Over 18,000 RMG workers unemployed during Covid-19 deadlock

As many as 18,128 ready-made garment (RMG) workers were subjected to layoffs in the last two months, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of workers laid off was counted from April to Sunday, said sources at Industrial Police.

So far, 117 factories under six Industrial Police units at Ashulia, Gazipur, Chittagong, Narayanganj, Mymensingh, and Khulna laid off the workers.

Excluding about 800 factories inside the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) area, 7,602 factories across the country are under the jurisdiction of Industrial Police.

Among the laid-off workers, a total 13,796 workers are from 81 BGMEA factories and 2,266 workers are from 13 BKMEA factories.

Furthermore, 258 workers are from four BTMA factories, 47 from one Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) factory, and 1,761 are from 14 other factories across the country.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak arrived in the country, garment owners have been complaining that they are not getting new orders from foreign buyers and some previous orders were canceled. The effects of the order shortage have been felt mostly by the workers.

Of the laid off workers, most had worked for less than one year at the different factories.

“Factories are laying off more of them [those who have worked for less than one year] as they need to pay them less money and other facilities,” said Mohammad Amzad Hossain, Superintendent of Police at the Industrial Police Headquarters.

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