AL, BNP leaders working against RMG sector: Tofail

Two leaders of ruling Awami League and opposition BNP are running a smear campaign against Bangladesh’s export-oriented readymade garments (RMG) sector, the commerce minister has alleged.

Published : 22 June 2014, 10:35 AM
Updated : 22 June 2014, 04:44 PM

Briefing reporters on Sunday on his recent US visit, Tofail Ahmed said some people had become labour leaders without ever going to a factory.

“Conspiracies are afoot to damage the RMG industry,” he said. “Several of our labour leaders have secretly written to them (the US).”

Ahmed said if he had not gone to the US, he would never have learnt that ‘IndustriAll’ chief BNP leader Nazrul Islam Khan and Awami League’s Roy Ramesh Chandra lodged complaints with the US.

“We should contemplate steps against them (the complainants),” he said.

Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of RMG products after China. The sector accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country’s export income.

The US scrapped the duty-free access of Bangladesh products into its market after two separate RMG factory accidents in 2012 and 2013 killed over 1,200 workers.

It said the move was to “push Bangladesh to improve”.

The minister claimed his visit was a success and he had been able to dispel the misconceptions Americans had about Bangladesh.

Minister Ahmed said, “I don’t think there’s any reason not to restore the GSP facility.”

He believes only political reasons can stand in the way.

Only seven percent private factories and 35 percent public factories in the US have trade unions whereas Bangladesh permits workers’ union in every factory, Ahmed said.

As many as 20 RMG factories have been shut after a visit by representatives of ‘Accord’ and ‘Alliance’ -- organisations of European and American buyers respectively.

“Twenty thousand workers have become jobless as a result,” the minister said.

Bangladesh’s labour law stipulates paying a worker three months’ salary if a company wishes to sack him.

“Only the ‘Alliance’ provided these workers salaries of one and a half month,” Ahmed said. “The rest was paid by the factories authorities.”