The holy festival of Eid-ul-Fitr celebrated across Bangladesh today is not like any other year for the garment workers!
Unlike previous years, the garment workers are facing multiple issues this time around, be it running risk of getting infected with the dreaded COVID-19, the all-pervading sense of job insecurity amidst closure of many factories due to order cancellations and last but not the least the alleged non-payment of dues and bonus by some factories due to financial crisis.
As per media reports which cited concerned officials of the apex garment manufacturing bodies (the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association-BGMEA and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association-BKMEA) of the country, around 2,182 units among 2,274 BGMEA members have paid salaries of 2.4 million workers for March while 1,878 among 1,926 factories in operation in April paid up their workers.
As per BGMEA spokesman Khan Monirul Alam, around 1,377 RMG units have been able to apply for loan from the coronavirus bailout package. While some had been refused the facility on various grounds, 500 others were found ineligible to apply and consequently failed to pay the workers.
Meanwhile, first Vice-President of BKMEA Mohammad Hatem underlined that around 130 of its member factories were shut, while 838 were operational but could not confirm how many have paid the workers.
Overall, around 478 BGMEA and BKMEA member factories had to shut business in past 2 months.
Meanwhile, as per the Industrial police, as many as 170 garment workers so far have tested positive for COVID-19 of which 40 are from 14 member factories of BKMEA and another 102 employed with 45 member units of BGMEA, claimed reports.
Further, two workers from members units of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) and 14 from 10 Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA)-based factories were also tested positive for coronavirus.