Bangladesh Garment Manufac-turers and Exporters Association yesterday asked factory owners not to display the photos of the workers sacked or suspended for their alleged involvement in labour unrest.
In December last year, factory owners fired or suspended 1,600 workers for their alleged links to unrest in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia. Some companies posted the pictures of those employees on factory walls for easy identification, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of BGMEA.
This suspension and subsequent identification of those workers were later heavily criticised by rights groups at home and abroad.
“I am requesting the factory owners not to display the photos of terminated or suspended workers, as the law doesn't support this practice,” Rahman.
All suspended and sacked workers have been given their dues and salaries as per the labour law, as the units resumed operations after two weeks of deadlock, he said.
The BGMEA chief was speaking at an emergency press conference at the association's office in Dhaka to discuss the current situation as a volatile global situation and some domestic challenges are having an impact on the sector.
The growth of garment exports from Bangladesh declined 3.53 percent year-on-year in December last year due to a volatile global situation coupled with domestic challenges including the chronic crisis of gas and power.
Brexit, currency swings and the US elections have impacted apparel exports from Bangladesh, Rahman said.
In July-December this fiscal year, garment exports grew only 4.37 percent year-on-year to $13.7 billion; at least 12.25 percent annual growth is required to achieve the export target of $50 billion by the end of 2021.
Garment shipments to the UK, the third largest export destination for Bangladesh, decreased 5.19 percent as demand weakened in early signs of Brexit's impact on the British economy.
Rahman said Bangladeshi exporters are worried as the Indian government recently launched several financial incentives for garment makers to revive their apparel sector and increase export volumes worldwide.
“It is our request to the government to develop two separate garment zones -- one near Dhaka and the other near Chittagong -- so that entrepreneurs can set up factories like in the special economic zones.”
He also urged the government to allocate government-owned fallow lands to the weak entrepreneurs to set up apparel factories.
Rahman termed the central bank's latest monetary policy a cautionary one and said there were no clear guidelines on how to tackle fallout from Brexit and other global challenges that have been affecting apparel exports.
In the monetary policy, private sector credit growth could have been increased a bit to boost confidence among the investors and to increase the inflow of loans to the industrial sector, he said.
On a recent allegation by the chairman of the National Board of Revenue or NBR that garment makers are not bringing back export receipts from abroad, Rahman said it is not true.
“The remark by the NBR chairman is very painful for us. Such a senior government official should not make sweeping comments,” Rahman said.
“If there is any evidence, the NBR official should prove it and take action against the wrongdoers.”