The coronavirus outbreak has left around 20,000 workers in Khulna city without a job over the last four months and forced the closure of 20 per cent business establishments.
Another 20,000 workers of small and medium business establishments are at the risk of losing their jobs because of the losses incurred during the shutdown triggered by the pandemic.
There are an estimated 200,000 staff at 50,000 business establishments, including stationary, grocery, printing shop, garment factory, computer shop, bookshop, watch, jewellery, shoe, restaurants and barbershop in the city, reports UNB.
Traders say 20 per cent of the businesses have been closed down between March and July, leaving 20,000 people jobless. Most of the shops are running with a small number of workers. If the situation does not improve, more workers will lose jobs.
Pradeep Sheel, a barbershop owner, said he used to earn Tk 800-1,000 a day but after the shutdown, his daily income has fallen to Tk 150-200.
A worker in the New Market said the owner of the shop where he works has dismissed two workers three months ago and has not cleared their wages for several months now.
“The owner is thinking of sacking more workers. I don’t know how I’ll run the family if I lose my job,” he said.
More businesses face closure
Shafiqul Islam, owner of a cloth shop in the Railway Station area, said his shop raked in Tk 10,000-12,000 in sales every day but the pandemic has brought his business on the verge of closure. “I’ve already terminated two workers of my shop and I don’t know if I’ll be able to continue the business,” he said.
Shahidul Haque Sohel, general secretary of Bangladesh Computer Association of Khulna, said the future looks grim.
“There’re 400 workers at 100 computer shops in the city and the owners of the businesses couldn’t sack them as they’re well trained in software and kept counting losses,” he said.
Rezaul Karim, President of Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, said: “Twenty per cent shops of the city are now closed and if the situation continues for another two-three months, then more shops will be shut down.”
Mafidul Islam Tutul, director of Khulna Chamber of Commerce Industry, said more businesses are sacking their employees because of financial crisis. He urged businesses to be humanitarian while dealing with workers.
A survey, conducted by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), revealed that about 13 per cent of people have become unemployed in the country due to Covid-19 pandemic.