Two European retailers, New Look and Inditex, yesterday handed out financial support to workers of Smart Export Garments which caught fire earlier in January killing eight and injuring 24.
Each of the 264 workers was given Tk 15,000 as three months' salary, at a programme organised by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at its premises.
The three injured workers who were yet to receive any compensation also got Tk 5 lakh each. The retailers had earlier compensated the other 21 injured workers.
“Although Inditex and New Look were not direct buyers of Smart Export Garments, they still came forward to help,” Faruq Hasan, a former vice-president of the BGMEA, said, while urging other foreign retailers to follow their lead.
The financial assistance was made under an agreement with IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, part of a global union federation.
Smart Export Garments, which was producing clothing items for foreign retailers through subcontracting agreements, was not a member of the BGMEA.
Hasan said it should be made mandatory for all subcontractors to be members of either the BGMEA or the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and also be brought under the inspection programmes of the Accord or Alliance or National Action Plan to ensure fire and building safety in the factories.
About the ongoing political instability, he said the garment makers need help from politicians. “If the politicians cannot maintain a stable environment, I would say they are not playing their due role.”
Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, vice president of the BGMEA, echoed the same, adding that orders have already started to shift from Bangladesh to other countries especially Vietnam and India.
“We are passing a very tough time.”
Amirul Haque Amin, president of National Garment Workers Federation, said no one wants accidents to take place in the garment industry. “Buyers, government, workers, civil society and labour and owners' associations -- all of us would have to work together to establish a safe garment industry.”
Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, said the association always aims to play a constructive role in the sector.