Readymade garment (RMG) factories across the country are not reopening on April 26 as per the previous decision by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), according to the president of the association, Rubana Huq.
Earlier, in a letter to the chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) April 15, the BGMEA sought an adequate number of buses for transportation of workers as the factories will be opened from April 26 and most of the garment workers are now staying in the villages.
The letter mentioned that workers will start coming from the villages to their workplaces situated in industrial areas like Gazipur, Savar, Ashulia and some parts of Dhaka from April 20 onwards, and thus require adequate transportation amid the ongoing lockdown of different districts.
However, Rubana Huq told The Daily Star that the factories are not opening -- as per the previous plan -- on April 26.
"It is being observed that there are some misleading information circulating on social media regarding the opening of BGMEA factories," Huq told The Daily Star in a WhatsApp message today.
"BGMEA's position is very clear on this. We need to be safe first before we operate. If the situation improves, we will open when the time is right. But for now the first and only priority is the health and safety of our workers," Huq also said in the message.
"The BGMEA was planning to open factories subject to Covid-19 situation and after yesterday's official declaration, BGMEA will wait and observe the situation and plan accordingly," she said.
Earlier, both BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) in a joint statement urged members to shut down factories to prevent spreading the coronavirus, in order to maintain social distancing.
However, in the statement BGMEA and BKMEA said if any factory wants keep their factories open to pay workers their salaries for March, the factory owners must seek permission from the associations and the industrial police.
On the other hand, government's Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) in a statement on April 14 said the factories can be kept open if they have work orders from the international retailers and brands, as well as those factories which are engaged in production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks and goods related to combating coronavirus.
The DIFE also said the government will take legal actions including lodging cases and suspension of the renewal of factory licences if any factory owner does not pay workers by April 16.
The DIFE will send a list of the factories which failed to pay the workers to the ministry of labour and employment by April 20.