Exporters in Dhaka threaten shutdown
Garment owners yesterday threatened to shut down all their units in Dhaka and its adjacent areas should the labour unrest in the sector continue.
The warning came in the aftermath of the closure of more than 300 garment factories at Ashulia for an indefinite period from Sunday following a weeklong spate of street violence by the workers in the area demanding a pay raise.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) on Saturday announced the shutdown.
Yesterday, Syed Faizul Ahsan Shamim, managing director of the Gazipur-based Dotcom Sweater Ltd, handed over a token key to BGMEA President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin at the association's office to express solidarity with the factory owners of Ashulia.
Shamim also submitted a memorandum to the BGMEA chief on behalf of garment owners in Dhaka, Gazipur, Tongi and Narayanganj, warning they would close their units if the impasse of Ashulia was not over soon.
“This means all the factory owners expressed solidarity and, if necessary, they will close down their factories,” Mohiuddin told reporters.
In the memorandum, Shamim demanded that the government stop “anarchy” at a time when the garment sector was passing through a critical time.
"Every day the factory owners of Ashulia are losing export orders owing to the impasse. They are losing buyers,” he said.
The image the Bangladeshi garment has earned over the last 30 years is now being tarnished, he added.
The BGMEA president at the press briefing said the business community across the country had already expressed solidarity with the association, and garment owners in Chittagong held a meeting on Sunday and extended their support for the shutdown decision.
“We will reopen our factories, but we need security, we need normalcy to return to the workplace. And we demand punishment of those involved in vandalism,” he said.
It may be mentioned that the weeklong labour unrest that erupted on June 11 in the Ashulia industrial belt left more than 200 garment factories vandalised, some 300 vehicles damaged and about 500 people, including law enforcers, injured.
“I do not see any hope of a reopening of factories soon as the government is yet to come up with any measure,” Mohiuddin said, adding that nobody should take the issue lightly as the garment sector was the lifeline of the country's economy.
Different ministries, departments and government agencies were discussing the matter, but not in an organised manner, he said.
The owners saw no immediate solution, he said, adding: “The biggest loss is the loss of buyers' confidence."
According to him, a few vested quarters are out to destroy the sector, the main foreign currency earner of the country. “The government must bring them to book.”
Asked, Additional Secretary of home ministry Kamaluddin Ahmed told The Daily Star that the Industrial Police were assigned to tackle the unrest.
He added it was for the labour and employment ministry to broker a deal between the owners and the workers.