The BGMEA has reversed the decision to indefinitely close all readymade garment factories in Ashulia industrial belt, apparently under pressure from the owners.
Hours before on Monday, the
apparel industry lobby had announced closure of all units citing security
concerns following a spate of labour unrest.
But the decision made many
garment owners unhappy and the BGMEA in a media release later in the night said
'the troubled garment factories in that area will be closed for an indefinite
But after the afternoon announcement, a factory owner, asking not
to be named, told bdnews24.com: "Only four of the factories are facing troubles.
It's not clear why BGMEA is closing all the factories instead of finding the
problems at those four factories."
This will make all readymade garment
factory owners count losses, he said.
Several others also expressed their
frustration over the decision.
The press release, however, did not
mention the reasons that led to a change of heart. No BGMEA officials were
available for comment either.
On Sunday, authorities had shut down at
least 100 garment factories at Ashulia following a clash between police and
workers who were demonstrating for better pay.
BGNEA President Atiqul
Islam at a press conference in the afternoon said they had taken the decision to
shut factories as per the Section 13 (A) of the Labour Act, meaning the workers
will not get salary.
Some factory owners present at the media call had
expressed their dissatisfaction at the decision to keep all the factories at
There are over 300 garment factories enlisted with the
BGMEA in the industrial belt that supllies almost 20 percent of the country’s
total export-focused apparel produces.
Earlier in the day, the
authorities of at least 100 apparel factories at Ashulia on the outskirts of the
capital, Dhaka, suspended production in the face of agitation by workers
demanding pay hike, benefits and workplace safety.
The workers blockaded
the Dhaka-Tangail Highway for about an hour in the morning. They also threw
brickbats in some factories and tried to vandalise vehicles on the highway,
The law enforcers charged batons to disperse them, leaving
scores of workers injured.
A devastating fire had claimed at least 112
lives at Tazreen Fashions Limited at Ashulia in November last year. At the end
of April this year, the disastrous collapse of a nine-storey commercial building
Rana Plaza at Savar has so far claimed 1,136 lives.
After the two deadly
incidents, Western buyers and the Bangladeshi government have come under renewed
pressure to find ways to tighten oversight of the sector, which employs four
million people and accounts for 80 percent of exports.
On Sunday, the
government set up a panel to raise the minimum wage for millions of garment
workers in the wake of international criticisms over the pay and perks and
workplace condition in the readymade garment factories.
owners claimed that there were ‘conspiracies’ behind the labour
Atiqul Islam said: “A vested quarter is out to create turbulence
in the readymade garment industry. In the guise of workers, some people are
creating chaos over several demands which are against the Labour Act.
leaders of the BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters
Association (BKMEA) were also present in the meeting held at the BGMEA office in
the city’s Kawranbazar.
BKMEA President KM Selim demanded an
investigation into the labour unrest and sought help from the
”A vested quarter is behind the unrest. Everyone knows who
are creating unrest in the country, who had created the Hifazat-e-Islam and who
are making provocative remarks.”
The BGMEA President claimed that
authorities of 80-90 percent garment factories of Savar were facing problems to
run their factories properly following the Rana Plaza collapse.
of the factories, the workers either leave their workplace or abstain from work
after punching their ID cards. A similar incident took place in Mirpur
Syed Qamrul Huda, owner of the Arunima Sportsware at Ashulia,
said: “A few workers have been creating disturbance in my factory over issues on
different occasions. Some fall sick after having tiffin, some only after
drinking water. However, the other workers who are eating the same foods aren’t
Owner of ABM Factory in Mirpur area, Washim Rahman, said:
“Most of the workers in my factory want to work, but a group of workers
numbering 20 to 30 are creating unrest and not allowing others to
Former Advisor to a caretaker government, Tapan Chowdhury, former
President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry
(FBCCI) AK Azad, former BGMEA presidents Abdus Salam Murshedi and Safiul Islam
Mohiuddin and former Vice-President of FBCCI Md Jasim Uddin were present at the
There are several allegations over workers’ safety in the
garment factories. Many survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse had alleged that
the owners of their factories housed on the top floors of the building forced
them into work on the fateful Apr 24 morning against their will since they had
seen the cracks in the building on the day before.