RMG Workers Forced to Return to Work: ASK’s Strong Condemnation and Grave Concern

In spite of the Government’s declaration on the extension of general holidays and closure of public transportation till 11 April 2020, the decision of opening garment factories and the marching of thousands of garment workers from different parts of the country towards Dhaka to join their workplaces have already stirred the attention of mass media and social networking sites., When the government has declared to shut-down everything considering COVID-19 outbreak, question remains as to why the garment factories put thousands of workers’ and their family members’ lives at risk by planning to open the factories. Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) expresses grave concern over this incident. ASK believes that such a reckless decision has greatly threatened the garment workers’ safety as well as the public health.

The global economy is seriously damaged due to this pandemic. Yet, like every other country, Bangladesh has declared shutting down all public and private organizations except for the emergency services; to prevent this pandemic, utmost priority is given in maintaining social and physical distance. Still, despite it being impossible to maintain physical distance in garment factories, the decision to open the garments factories is suicidal and contradictory to government’s guidelines in dealing with Corona virus. This incident has displayed the garment factory owners’ utmost negligence towards the health and life of their workers. Later, BGMEA requested the garment factory owners to keep their factories closed. Had this request by BGMEA been made earlier, it would have been possible to avoid the workers’ health risk and hazards.

ASK wants to further mention that despite governments’ declaration of a special package, the factory owners have failed to address their concern for the salary and job security and earn the trust of workers; rather they have thrown their workers’ lives into a great risk. In this case, the government has failed to ensure the shutdown of the factories through prior discussion with the factory owners. Moreover, a lack of proper coordination between BGMEA, BKMEA and the government has been observed. ASK urges the government to make sure that the factory owners keep the factories closed as long as the public holiday extends, and ensures that the salary of the workers is disbursed during this time.

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