As per a report published recently, due to COVID-19, garment workers in Bangladesh lost wages worth Taka 4,250 crore (US $ 501 million) for 3 months, March to May.
This was underlined in the report titled ‘Un(der)paid in the pandemic: An estimate of what the garment industry owes its workers’, research on which was carried out by the Worker Rights Consortium and Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) with contributions by Solidarity Center.
They carried out the research on non-payment of wages to garment workers due to order cancellations by apparel brands, state-sanctioned wage cuts and unpaid leave during the coronavirus crisis.
The report underlined that the only way to reverse this and prevent such a crisis from taking place again lies with the brands, which needs to take lasting and immediate action.
The report estimated that 1.47 lakh garment workers did not receive any wages in March as 150 factories closed at least temporarily in the month, which also estimated a 29.5 per cent wage gap in the 3 months in the Bangladesh garment industry.
The report further underlined that despite extension of countrywide shutdown into May, most RMG units started reopening from 26 April, which went on to add that workers in factories under lockdown received around 65 per cent wage, workers in closed units received no wages and those working in factories without Government support received nothing for April.
Meanwhile, reacting to the report, President of the country’s apex garment makers’ body, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Dr. Rubana Huq reportedly said that the report should have been based on sourcing areas rather than on manufacturing nations while adding that when all other countries followed ‘no work no pay’, Bangladesh paid US $ 534 million for the days when the workers did not work in April.
The idea should not be to malign the manufacturers but to get to the root problem, which certainly does not lie at our end, reportedly maintained the BGMEA President speaking to the media.