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20 problems troubling the RMG industry

imagesLabour leaders of the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector Sunday identified more than 20 problems troubling the RMG industry. Those include implementation of the labour law and the new wage structure, which they held responsible for the workers’ agitation.

The problems also include sacking of workers without benefits, payment of wages without following the grades prescribed in the Wage Board Award, harassment of the workers who are involved with trade union activities, absence of maternity leave, and insecurity involving re-joining work after enjoying the leave benefit, increase in house rent along with other essentials’ prices upon announcement of the new wage structure, the labour leaders said.

They also suggested regular meetings of workers and labour leaders with the garment factory owners and the government, training for both the groups to make them aware of their rights and responsibilities, allowing trade unions, stopping ‘jhut’ business with a view to establishing a healthy relationship between the workers and the owners.

More than 30 leaders of different labour organisations involved with the RMG sector, at a meeting with the state minister for labour, Mujibul Haque, informed him about those problems and drew his attention to the issue of resolving the crises to prevent further unrest in the sector.

They also recommended legal action against those responsible for the Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1200 workers, and also demanded compensation for the injured and the deceased workers’ families.

The minister assured them that he had taken note of the 24 problems raised by the leaders and would hold a meeting with the owners and take necessary steps.

“We will scrutinise the reasons behind the labour unrest and take measures,” he said adding that they would also sit with the factory owners tomorrow (Tuesday), and discuss the issues including proper implementation of the newly announced wage hike.

Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, said there is a tendency among many of the factory owners to pay workers overlooking salary grades that came into effect from December last.

Moreover, increase in house rent after the announcement of the enhanced wages in the areas, where garment workers live, should be controlled as the workers are not much benefited by the wage hike due to the rising cost of living, she added.

Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, president of Bangladesh Textile Garments Workers Federation, alleged that factory owners are reluctant to implement the new wages, and they were also not paying the workers according to their grades. He feared further unrest if the workers did not get their new wages in accordance with their grades.

Lovely Yasmin, another labour leader, said there are a good number of factories that are yet to implement the new wage structure, except the large groups.

She suggested dormitory facility and rationing system for the RMG workers, to reduce unrest and also the implementation of labour laws, which allow many rights and benefits including maternity leave and security of jobs of the workers.

To restore the generalised system of preferences (GSP) by the USA and to keep the same benefit unaffected by the European Union and proper implementation of the wage hike are the major challenges for the Bangladesh garment sector, said Roy Ramesh Chandra, president of United Federation of Garment Workers.

He suggested proper and prompt implementation of the wage hike and labour laws for sound industrial atmosphere and demanded arrest of the Tazreen Fashions factory owner.

The labour leaders viewed that if the wages are paid regularly within a deadline of each month, the labour unrest would reduce by 50 per cent.

They recommended allowing trade union in all factories according to the law of the land, avoid raising the number of ineffective workers’ unions, speedy formulation of the rules of the labour law for proper implementation of it, upgrading the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments with increase in manpower, proper inspection of factories along with regular monitoring, and taking necessary measures to increase the workers’ productivity.

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Report: Monira Munni

Source: Financial Express

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