RMG workers worried over Covid situation: survey

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Around 84 per cent of garment workers are concerned about the current situation of Covid-19 in Bangladesh, according to a survey by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) released yesterday.

Within the first week of being recalled to work, the number of people present at the workplace was slightly lower than usual levels. Besides, the workers are suffering from uncertainty about their future economic security.

"In this situation, the authorities concerned need to take adequate measures to ensure the safety of their workers and address any concerns," said the "Survey Findings of Garment Worker Diaries: Working during Covid-19 Lockdowns".

To facilitate the recovery of the garments industry, including exports, and the economy as a whole, factory owners, government officials, policymakers, and advocacy groups will have to come together to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of workers, said the Sanem.

The Sanem and Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) have been jointly conducting a project called "Garment Worker Diaries" to collect data on the working conditions, income, expenditure, food security, wage digitalisation, and health of garment workers in Bangladesh.

The main objective of this project is to aid informed policymaking and brand initiatives, with regular and credible data collection and analysis, which can have a positive impact on the lives of garment workers.

The project aims to improve transparency in global supply chains and help relevant authorities better understand how Covid-19 has affected garment workers.

Data has been collected on a monthly basis since April 2020 on garment workers employed by factories across the country's five main industrial areas -- Chattogram, Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Savar.

The data used for the analysis presented above comes from interviews of 1,278 workers conducted over the phone in August.

The survey focused on effects of the nationwide lockdown on garment workers and their feelings about the current state of their workplace safety and the prospects of more or less pay.

During the first week of August, garment workers were recalled to work amid the unexpected easing of lockdown measures, said the Sanem.

A slightly smaller share of women worked compared to that of men, 81 per cent compared to 89 per cent respectively.

Among the 83 per cent of respondents who had worked on the first week, only 44 per cent said they were comfortable with going to work during the lockdown.

Only 45 per cent were given a mask to wear while working and around 77 per cent of working respondents said they had been able to maintain social distance while working.

The Sanem's findings show that only 47 per cent of respondents had seen their factories taking additional steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19.   


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