The debate as to the actual number of garment workers infected with COVID-19 continues amidst claims and counter-claims by the garment makers and the labour leaders.
Contradicting the apex garment makers’ body’s — the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) — reported claim that around 346 workers have contracted the disease, of which 202 have already recovered from it, labour leaders have not only rejected the same but underlined it’s way more higher, and the actual numbers would be out soon, claimed media reports.
Interacting with the media, General Secretary of Industriall Bangladesh Council, Chaina Rahman said such low number of infected workers was ‘unbelievable’ as she felt many factories were running operations ‘flouting healthcare guidelines’.
The Industriall Bangladesh Council General Secretary also added actual numbers would be available by July end when the workers’ body would unveil statistics of infected workers being collected from the factories.
Some other labour leaders have expressed similar views with Executive President of Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre, Kazi Ruhul Amin underlining that workers have poor access to testing facilities while also facing serious problem in maintaining social distance at workplace and at residence, while General Secretary of Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers’ Federation, Babul Akhter, on his part claimed that many factories were sending home workers on leave with coronavirus symptoms while many workers who even test positive do not report the same in fear of losing job.
Many workers with coronavirus symptoms have not been tested, claimed Babul, adding this could be a probable reason for such low number of workers being reported positive for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, speaking to the media, the Chairman of BGMEA public relations committee, Khan Monirul Alam Shuvo reportedly maintained factories’ strict adherence to health safety guidelines is the reason behind lower number of infected workers besides adding that BGMEA has dedicated facility to test workers and workers have sufficient access to get tested for COVID-19, be it in BGMEA’s lab or other Government facilities.