The Financial Express

Over 100 RMG factories remain open despite coronavirus lockdown

Published: April 06, 2020 14:54:43 | Updated: April 06, 2020 17:20:42

Reuters file photo used only for representation Reuters file photo used only for representation

More than 100 garment factories remained open in Savar and Ashulia ignoring safety concerns of the workers and calls to shut down amid concerns over a coronavirus outbreak in the country, according to a UNB report Monday.

Factories in Hemayetpur, Ulail, Tetuljhora, Rajfulbaria, Kornopara, Charabag in Ashulia, Khejurbagan, Jirabo, Ghoshbag, and Jamgora are in operation although the government declared a general holiday until April 14 and the BGMEA urged owners to keep factories closed for the time being.

Bangladesh’s labour-intensive RMG sector, which contributes over 80 per cent to the country’s export earnings, is at particular risk of coronavirus outbreak. People work in close proximity to each other in the factories, exposing them to infectious diseases like COVID-19, health experts say.

Garment worker Safia said they are unwilling to continue work in this situation but the owner has threatened to sack them.

“We can’t afford to lose our jobs. So, we must continue working,” said Nazma Aktar, a worker of Anlima Garment.

Abu Taleb, a worker of Doel Group Garment said they joined work as the factory owner said they have urgent export orders to meet.

Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of RMG products after China, employs more than four million people in the sector, mostly women.

The country is currently trying to contain the spread of coronavirus by announcing a general holiday and urging people to stay indoors. COVID-19 cases rose to 123 on Monday with the country reporting three more deaths and detection of 35 new patients.

Garment factories under the supervision of Dhaka Export Processing Zone remained shut following request of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Earlier on Saturday, BGMEA President Rubana Huq had urged the owners to keep their factories closed until April 11 to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, mobile courts led by executive magistrates are fining people for violating social isolation and coming out on the streets instead of staying home.

Savar Upazila Assistant Commissioner (land) and Executive Magistrate Abdullah Al Mahfuz said: “The local administration is monitoring to prevent unnecessary movement of people on roads.”

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