Businesses worried over RMG labour unrest
Different trade bodies have expressed deep concern over the present labour unrest in the readymade garments sector and urged the government to take immediate steps to control the situation.
Twenty percent of the total export income in the garment sector is generated by the factories located in Ashulia, where the current labour unrest is taking place.
“Ashulia is a hub of large garment factories, which are completely compliant with the foreign buyers' requirements,” Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) said in a statement yesterday.
Although it was decided in several meetings among the owners, government and worker leaders to resume operation in the factories, it was not possible as the workers stick to their demand for increasing salary, the EAB said.
The workers were engaged in vandalism and looting in the factories and so around 300 factories were shut down for an indefinite period under a joint decision of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the statement said.
The country's export sector including the clothing industry has been facing many hurdles against the backdrop of a double-dip recession in the developed economies.
On top of that, a budgetary proposal of increasing advance income tax on exports by 100 percent and a further hike in fuel prices will deepen the crisis in the apparel sector, the EAB said.
“In this situation, the untoward labour unrest will ruin exports and affect the country's economy,” the association added.
Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) in a statement said some vested quarters are involved with instigating the labour unrest, and the government should take actions against them.
The unrest has already started taking toll on the industry, as export orders are either declining or getting postponed, the chamber said.
“Pulling back from here, the buyers are now placing orders with China, the major competitor of Bangladesh,” the BCI said, adding that the buyers are also leaving the country.
“It will be hard for the entrepreneurs to find out new buyers in the present situation and continue their business,” the chamber said.
Our Chittagong correspondent adds: Some worker leaders and vested quarters are trying to create unrest in the garments sector by manipulating the workers, said Nasiruddin Ahmad Chowdhury, president of Shippers' Council of Bangladesh.
He was addressing a press conference on the “unrest in the garments sector and economic crisis in Bangladesh” in the port city yesterday.
As the garment exporters use shipping companies to send their goods abroad, the shippers' council has expressed its concern about the present state in the sector.
An international plot is going on to ruin the sector, he said, adding that if the government does not take immediate steps to identify these conspirators and foil the conspiracy, the sector would fall in deep crisis.
He also said the government's initiative to address this problem is not enough.
Chowdhury said there is no alternative to garment exports in Bangladesh for a healthy reserve of foreign exchange.
Export orders are already on the decline and the workers' unrest will further aggravate the situation, he said.
He said more than 300 factories have been closed in Ashulia due to the present unrest, and these units run the risk of losing orders.
Chowdhury said there might have been some misunderstandings between the management and workers but any crisis should be resolved through discussion.