BGMEA seeks higher prices from buyers
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is seeking higher prices for each unit of garment items in line with workers' wage increases as factories that had temporarily shut down due to recent unrest started reopening gradually yesterday after the arrival of workers.
Garment workers across the country had been staging protests over the past week, demanding an increase in minimum wages. In light of that situation, the government published a gazette on new RMG wages on Sunday.
Consequently, almost all garment factories which were shut under Section 13(1) of the labour law have reopened, except for 99 in Ashulia, one in Mirpur and three in Konabari and Kashimpur areas.
The factories in Ashulia may reopen today as workers have been in contact with their workplaces hoping to rejoin, said BGMEA President Faruque Hassan.
The BGMEA has been encouraging the reopening of factories on a zonal basis and yesterday almost all factories in Konabari and Kashimpur areas were reopened. Only three factories in Konabari and Kashimpur were not reopened as they were vandalised on a massive scale, he added.
The BGMEA has been seeking higher prices per unit of garment items with effect from December 1 as the new wage structure for garment workers is going to be implemented from the same date.
The BGMEA sent a letter to US-based American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) seeking higher prices for garment items sourced from Bangladesh from December 1.
Hassan had sent a letter to Stephen Lamar, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the AAFA, on November 8.
He said in the letter that it is important that prices of all goods which will be shipped from December 1 be duly adjusted/up-charged to cover the increment in wages and ensure uninterrupted and smooth operations in the industry.
"Furthermore, from now onward, all the business negotiations and deals will have to be made adhering to the new minimum wage policy," he said.
"Therefore, I would humbly request you to kindly pursue the AAFA membership, to collaborate with their Bangladeshi suppliers with due empathy and consideration."
Moreover, the association has called a meeting inviting all the major retailers and brands which source garment items from Bangladesh to the BGMEA office tomorrow.
The aim is to provide the BGMEA's viewpoint over the latest spell of labour unrest and urge a price hike in tune with the recent rise in workers' wages.
At a press conference on Sunday, Hassan said losses were piling up and that it was not possible to quantify the losses that had been incurred due to the ongoing unrest.
However, he said the damage which has been done is that buyers are not placing any work orders as they are concerned about the ongoing unrest. Buyers are concerned that if unrest continues, they will not be able to place fresh work orders, Hassan said.
"We are trying to get them to understand that only five percent of factories are affected. So, we are trying to resolve it. We want the factories to run," Hassan said in response to journalists' queries.
Five more cases have been filed with Ashulia police station in connection with attacks and vandalism at various factories in the Ashulia industrial area during the ongoing unrest.
With these 5 cases, the total number of cases over the recent unrest has reached 17.
Shahidul Islam, Dhaka district additional superintendent of police (Savar circle), confirmed the matter to The Daily Star at around 11:00am yesterday.
He said there were 12 previous cases and 5 new cases were filed over garment workers' unrest in Ashulia.
Out of the 17 cases, four have named a total of 61 accused whereas for the rest it is unknown. He also said the total number of anonymous persons accused in 17 cases would be about 4,500.
A total of 7 workers have been arrested at various times over these cases.