The lifestyle of female workers in the readymade garment (RMG) sector is still in a sorry state, though their wages and the working environment have improved notably after several manmade disasters in recent years, said a study yesterday.
Based on the interviews of 3,014 women from 327 RMG factories across Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj, the study said that violation of employment contract related provisions is evident. Some 36 percent do not have appointment letter while 80 percent do not have service book.
Prof Jakir Hossain of Rajshahi University, who led the research team, presented the study at a programme in Jatiya Press Club on behalf of Karmojibi Nari (KN).
The study found that 86 percent of female workers are between the ages of 18 and 35 years, of whom 60 percent have completed only primary education.
The workers have families of four to five members on an average, including at least two dependants.
The study shows that average personal income of a woman worker is Tk 9,972, while their average family expenditure is Tk 17,639, almost double their wage.
“Although the wage has been increased, it is still far lower than the living expenditure of the RMG workers,” Prof Jakir Hossain told The Daily Star.
The study shows that 66 percent of women in the RMG sector work up to 10 hours daily while 34 percent work beyond that legal time limit.
Some 30 percent workers told the interviewers that night duty is mandatory for them; however, 34 percent female workers are unaware that there must be written consent for night duty.
Although 94 percent workers get festival leave, they claim to enjoy no government holidays except for May Day. Only nine percent said they receive maternity leave.
Fire safety equipment is available in most factories, but some 41 percent workers observed minor fire accidents.
According to the study, one in every five female workers (21 percent) has reported physical harassment while 14 percent have noticed sexual harassment.
Speaking as chief guest, lawmaker Shirin Akhter, founding president of KN, said, “The status of RMG workers has improved but there are still many gaps.”
Presided over by Pratima Paul Mojumder, president of KN; Matiur Rahaman, deputy inspector general of the department of inspection for factories and establishment and Razekuzzaman Ratan, general secretary of Samajtantrik Sramik Front, also spoke at the event.