Bangladesh garment workers face negligence in lockdown: Union
Apparel workers union Garment Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (GSKOP) has condemned factory owners for not providing sufficient transport to help workers reach workplaces amid the weeklong lockdown.
"Factory owners kept their businesses open without ensuring transport for all workers which they said was harassment," GSKOP joint coordinators Abdul Wahed and Kamrul Hasan said in a statement.
They also demanded proper health safety and allowances for workers who were risking infection by working in the pandemic.
"The factory owners are repeatedly going back on their words. They have acquired permission to keep the factories open on the condition that they will ensure transportation for the workers following safety rules under their own management," GSKOP said.
Media reports said the workers went through a transportation crisis, bore additional commuting costs and faced questions from authorities while travelling on Wednesday, the first day of the lockdown.
The government issued a transpiration ban and ordered a shutdown of all offices, including shopping malls, market and restaurants on Wednesday to curb the coronavirus infections. The lockdown will continue until Arp 21.
Government, semi-government and private offices were ordered shut during the lockdown, but the government allowed factories to operate.
Citizens are not allowed to leave their houses except for emergency purposes. Grocery and corner stores are allowed to operate.
"The coronavirus crisis has shed new light on how these workers risk their lives to keep the production, export and the economy running. Yet, these workers are subject to starvation, lack of treatment, harassment and oppression," GSKOP said.
Bdnews24.com adds: The statement added that such "irresponsible behaviour" was not expected from factory owners.
"Coronavirus infection is a severe risk and the workers had to take to the streets demanding back pay even amid this lockdown in Ashulia and Gazipur."
GSKOP alleged that the workers who tested positive for the coronavirus are being sent home on compulsory leave without providing them with proper treatment.
GSKOP also asked the authorities to consider them as "frontline workers" to ensure their COVID-19 testing and vaccination.