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Let us save RMG workers

Published : Monday, 18 February, 2019 at 5:33 PM  Count : 1859

Let us save RMG workers

Let us save RMG workers

During my graduation period in economics, the chapter named factors of production was seriously as well as carefully taught by a teacher. When asked about the importance of the chapter among others, the teacher answered to the question with great emphasize.

In reply, he told that any economy is affected much if factors of production - land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship are not well managed. The entrepreneurs use these tools to produce goods and services at a large scale.

Truly speaking, labor is regarded one of the key factors in manufacturing sectors, among others. So, there is no chance to neglect labor force. If done so, the production volume must be decreased. The quality of the products produced by the neglected workers will not be good at all. As a result of showing continuous dishonor towards workers involved in the apparel sector, Bangladesh is likely to fall in great danger in coming days.

Currently, the sector turned into much discussed due to its export volume. Export earnings from the RMG sector rose to US$ 30.61 billion in 2017-18 fiscal year (FY). Exports have increased by 15.65 per cent in first six months (July-December) of 2018-19 FY. Business in the apparel sector has increased two and half times in the last one decade. The sector now accounts for more than 83 per cent of the country's total export earnings.

In view of above scenario, the role of workers beggars description in our economy. Their contributions in country’s GDP are completely ignored. We have to keep in mind that the labor force in the RMG sector is the driving force of our economy.

Currently, apparel sector is contributing around 83 percent to total export earnings, and that is obviously a milestone. Yet, untiring efforts discharged by 4.5 million workers are denied countrywide. They face mental harassment. When they will get back their dignity on this land is totally unknown to me.

According to published report in an English financial daily, over 11,000 workers have so far been issued termination letters following recent unrest issue in the sector. Those who were strongly involved in month-long agitation over wage disparity, have also been brought to law.

The situation in the industrial zones has not yet been improved. Now, the political climate is very favourable to get huge export orders from demand-driven countries.  

The news stories on recent unrest in apparel sector were displayed in international media. So, buyers’ rush in this season is not up to the mark at all. We are gradually going to lose our apparel markets due to the unexpected situation.

This is high time to bargain with foreign buyers regarding price and quality. Our rival Vietnam is taking the complete benefits of orders. For long, Vietnam is trying best to broaden its market globally. But, we are still now getting more acceptability than Vietnam in terms of quality that is needed to enter into European market.  

Sadly speaking, many workers are being taken to the custody. The kith and kin of the victims do not know when they will be released from jail. Many of the victims are the only earning sources of their families.

What offence they committed I do not know. They merely demanded revision of wage structure following the inflation rate. With the increase of their screaming for wage hike, the government stood by them and ultimately the much-discussed wage structure had been revised in competitive grade.

The state has a crucial role to oversee the workers’ condition. The state should call the owners who forced the workers to give resign letters. The owners should have been invited before law and order for hearing regarding the cause of issuing termination letters to so many workers. The absence of required number of workers might cause production hamper resulting in slow delivery to the buyers. Foreign exchange would enter into our economy slowly for slow delivery against export-orders.

Nevertheless, RMG sector needs to be decorated with modern technology to enhance production capacity. The uneducated labor force should be trained to run modern equipment. China has already adopted new technologies to gear up production volume side by side with maintaining quality. In this regard, there is no alternative to educate the existing labor force. If trend of serving termination letters to the old workers goes on, it is not possible to run newly installed technology with new workers in the sector.

A few plants are seen to provide world class facilities to the workers to meet the compliance set by International Labor Organization (ILO). A majority of production centers located at difficult-to-reach areas are insensitive regarding workers’ right. Improved work environment has to be made sure.

Workers’ right strictly should have been maintained in light of ILO’s instructions. Being unemployed, the jobless people may indulge in unruly activities in the society which is threat for economy. The concerned owners should give up the practice of termination the workers. Rather, labor-friendly mentality should grow up in the mind of owners.

To conclude, what needs to be noted here that work for every people must be ensured with a view to increase per capita income of the developing countries. If people become jobless in this moment, the objective of new government would be nipped in the bud. The members of security forces posted in industrial zones have to be passionate towards the workers.

The cases lodged against workers in different police stations should be dismissed. The dream which Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamt to build Sonar Bangla would be materialized soon if factors of production are dealt with strategic ways in our economy. So, let us show due respect to the labor force involved in apparel industry.

Md Mazadul Hoque is currently serving at Social Islami Bank Ltd. E-mail:

Related Topics

RMG sector   Export earnings   apparel sector  

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