Employment in RMG factories
A survey carried out by the Mansusher Jonno Foundation has found that more than 72 percent of garment workers do not have any appointment letters. The survey covered 770 workers in Dhaka, Chittagong, Gazipur and Narayanganj, and found that the bulk of these workers could only produce their identity cards as proof of employment. This comes as a surprise as it is mandatory for BGMEA and BKMEA factories to provide appointment letters to workers employed by member companies.
Things have improved in a lot of ways in the sector after the disastrous Rana Plaza incident. The Accord and Alliance initiatives have worked with the sector to improve safety standards and make the RMG sector better in many ways. However, as the latest survey shows, management practices, when dealing with workers' basic rights still need a lot of improvements. Most workers have no idea about the existing provisions of the labour law, and given that there no trade union in these factories the RMG owners have no central bargaining agent. Hence, they cannot present their demands coherently to their employers.
This is an area that policymakers need to look into. While it is an undeniable fact that the garments sector provides the bulk of our exports earnings, it is also true that RMG workers have serious grievances about the threat of sudden termination. The government should form a separate monitoring cell to oversee that workers are given all necessary documents to establish their bona fide as entitled under the law.