Garment exports are on the rise, yet why workers’ Eid is unhappy
The events of July 2014. 1,600 workers of five factories of Toba Group in Badda of the capital started hunger strike from the day before Eid-ul-Fitr without getting three months salary, overtime and Eid bonus. After 11 days of continuous hunger strike including Eid day, the workers get paid. For this, the police beatings and even rubber bullets have joined the fate of some of the workers.
There are allegations that Delwar Hossain, the owner of Tobar, was released on bail after capitalizing on the workers’ pay and allowance movement. He was in jail on charges of burning 111 workers to death in the November 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire.
After the Toba incident, the export-oriented ready-made garment sector faced severe criticism at home and abroad. Then it was going to be about eight years. However, the situation did not improve much. Although no major incidents like these five factories have taken place in Toba, some factory workers have to take to the streets before Eid to demand their salaries and allowances. When the workers block the road, in many cases the police are beating them with sticks. When that news was published in the media, the leaders of BGMEA and BKMAE, an association of garment industry owners, were active. It solves the problems of some factories. However, some factory workers have to celebrate Eid without any salary or allowance. This year’s holy Eid-ul-Fitr was no exception. Many factory workers did not get salary-allowance.
Workers of a garment factory called GM & JC Composite Limited in Bhogra area of Gazipur have been protesting since Saturday demanding wages and bonuses. They spent the night inside the factory. The workers ate iftar and sahri inside the factory after drinking water and biscuits. Workers were still inside the factory at 2pm on Sunday. The workers have said that they will not leave the factory without salary-bonus.
Last Monday (April 25), workers of a factory called Cotton Textile and Apparels in Pallabi in the capital took position on Mirpur Road No. 11 demanding arrears of wages. Workers of Intraco Design and Intraco Fashion block the Jasimuddin-Azampur road in Uttara with the same demand. The workers of the three factories have claimed that they are owed 2-3 months wages. In the end, Cotton Textile and Apparels paid salaries but could not pay the festival allowance to the workers of Intraco Design and Intraco Fashion.
In 10 years, only one year of the Corona period, the export of readymade garments decreased. The rest of the year the export of readymade garments has increased. In the 2011-12 financial year, garments worth হাজার 1,906 crore were exported. In the fiscal year 2020-21, that export has increased to 3 thousand 145 crore dollars. This means that the export of readymade garments has increased by 74 percent in the last 10 years