Closure of Ashulia factories
AT a time when all major stakeholders, both domestic and foreign, are actively engaged in thrashing out critical issues on safety, pay hike of workers in the garments sector, the Ashulia industrial belt is experiencing volatile protests. The result has been the shutdown of some 60 factories. Needless to say, the demands for better pay, lunch allowance and other benefits reflect valid grievances. Yet they could not have come at a worse time.
The shutting down of production at so many factories has every chance of having a domino effect on other plants in other parts of the country. Were that to happen, it could deal a severe blow to an already strained apparels industry. The sector has been reeling under the pressure of frequent countrywide shutdowns due to the confrontational politics that has gripped the country over the past few months. Firm orders for garments are there with the industry and supply deadlines have to be met in a timely manner.
A new wage board is in the offing, one that may well see foreign buyers' participation. Any significant change in the rules of business takes time to take effect. Overnight transformation is simply not possible due to the complexities involved in negotiations, especially with so many stakeholders – the government, industry owners and labour unions. Maintaining law and order in the industrial belts must be a top priority for authorities. It is time for restraint, not agitation.