As many as 40 per cent of the apparel workers in a survey claimed to use the internet daily
Garment workers are using the internet more and more, in what can be viewed as an instance of social upliftment that the sector provided for its 3.6 million mostly female operatives.
As many as 40 per cent of the apparel workers in a survey claimed to use the internet daily. Of them, 27 per cent are female workers, according to the survey styled “Socioeconomic Profile of Garment Workers of Bangladesh”, conducted by the Asian Centre for Development.
Some 1,119 workers from 160 factories located in Dhaka, Gazipur, Savar, Narayanganj and Chittagong were interviewed for the study.
Workers use the internet to communicate with friends and family alongside entertainment purposes in their leisure time, according to the survey.
A third of the surveyed population uses either or a combination of the three popular apps, Facebook, IMO and Youtube, according to the study.
Using the internet for making calls to family members is cheaper as apps are free and it costs comparatively lower to buy data packages than airtime, Misha Akter, a quality checker at Denim Expert, told Dhaka Tribune.
She spends about Tk 150 per month to buy internet packages.
“The internet allows us to make video calls that add to the quality of communication. I enjoy my leisure time watching movies and drama or listening to songs on YouTube,” she added.
Among the internet users in the survey, about 87 per cent buys monthly internet packages while 7.5 per cent buys weekly ones, 3.3 per cent bi-weekly and the rest purchases occasionally.
Several workers also use the internet using a Wi-Fi connection in their residences.
"My family members stay in a village and I talk to them using apps, which does not cost me anything because I have access to Wi-Fi connection in my residence, paid by my inmates," said TituMollah, a sample man at Fatullah Apparel.
Workers can browse various apps very easily despite a lack of formal education, said Mohammad Faisal, assistant manager in the human resource and compliance department of Fatullah Apparel.
“Apparel workers are now more tech-savvy, which is a matter of pride and we want to utilise it by training and educating them,” Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Considering the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the sector’s apex trade body is working on developing a super app for providing the workers with the training to scale up their skills, said Huq, who is also the managing director of Mohammadi Group.