Abdul Alim: There is not a single country whether it is Bangladesh or any other country in the world which is above of problems. Even the world itself is bound within the clutch of problems! So, the garment sector of Bangladesh is the same. There have been some significant sides for the workers which have been assured of health and safety, lifestyle developing etc. Some are in progress and some other issues to be implemented as well. But we should not one-sidedly judge the negative sides of our garment factories closing our eyes. We can calculate the differences ourselves if we look 30 years back from now on the socio-economic state of the country. We need no explanation in terms of standardization of the factories if we match the picture of today’s factory with that of 20 years ago. Worker-safety, work-safety, minimum life leading safety, social safety or Bangladesh Labor Law etc are totally absent to the other factory workers. Certainly, it can be said that some of us think garment factories as a death-well though they haven’t any command on Engineering factories of Dholaikhal, garment sectors established for fulfilling the local demand, Motor Engineering Industries, Glass Factories, Steel Mills, Ship Industries, Chemical Factories etc.
Thousands of Hon’s degree-holders are still unemployed. But with the blessing of the garment factories a boy or girl, 18 years of age, even who has not any idea about how to work, can have a handsome income by the end of the month doing overtimes if he or she wants to. Because of low wages in the garment sectors, there are some of us who violate the human rights and labor rights. How will they notice that boy of 10 years of age who is working beneath a sharp lathe machine for his daily bread?
Many factories which were very dirty and nauseous once have turned into modern ones with the passing of time. This generation is heading not only for the law but also towards the green revolution of the garment industry with the conception of a sustainable factory. Bangladesh has more than half among top world famous 10 environment-friendly factories. Many factories from different countries could not compete with Bangladesh in that list. Can we say then there is no better garment factory in the world in terms of the environment than Bangladesh?
The awful fire accident of Tazrin Fashion in 2012 clarified the fire extinction system of the country. Later on, with the combined collaboration of the owner of the factory, the government, buyers and all others the fire risk has been reduced and we did not get any news of death due to fire accident in any garment factory in last 3 years. The most terrible accident occurred at Rana Plaza in 2013. And that was the biggest threat the garment factories had ever met. This incident gave a shake to the world. Unfortunately, Bangladesh got the medal for having the un-safest garment factory in the world. Still, Tazrin Fashion and Rana Plaza are the names of nightmares to many. But everyone knows what measures had been taken by the government, owners, and buyers after the accident to tackle and how they overcame.
The custom of Sumangali of India is the worst slavery system in the world where millions of women workers are being tortured greatly to pay dowry but there is no chance to raise a voice against it.
Most of the countries including England there is modern slavery system prevailed. For this reason, England has to issue a law for itself to eradicate it from the country even in this 21st century though it civilized the whole world.
Let’s talk about wage. The minimum wage of Bangladesh RMG sector is BDT 5300 which is quite insufficient to lead a simple life in Dhaka or nearby. But the reality shows that thousands of Hon’s degree-holders are still unemployed. But with the blessing of the garment factories a boy or girl, 18 years of age, even who has not any idea about how to work, can have a handsome income by the end of the month doing overtimes if he or she wants to. Because of low wages in the garment sectors, there are some of us who violate the human rights and labor rights. How will they notice that boy of 10 years of age who is working beneath a sharp lathe machine for his daily bread? They don’t even have the capability to understand the fact that labor is cheaper due to the establishment of thousands of garments factories in Bangladesh. Whoever, wearing a medal of leader in the chest, keep shouting on labor rights are most of not workers. They know it well that the factories in Bangladesh will not run if the wage is BDT 16000. Even so, for the temporary facilities from the owners they keep on rolling with the fanciful demands. But they don’t pay attention to the fact that millions are being unemployed. These labor leaders never protest for minimum wage against any other except garment sector. The minimum wage of other sectors is lesser than the garments or textile sectors. They have to lead a life as well! So, why is the protest for the wage regarding to the garment sectors only? If we think on this for little while it will be clear. It is true that the minimum wage is comparatively lesser than other competitor countries of Bangladesh. But with this, if you burke the efficiency of the workers, it will be one-sided judging. The relation between a worker with his efficiency is more intimate than the technology.
In California and England’s different industrial area the workers of the garments factories don’t get half of their minimum wage and such often come in the local or international media.
In many countries of Africa including Kenya workers enter into the factory with different kinds of arms and other weapons.
The over profit-seeking buyers choose Myanmar as an alternative of Bangladesh but it proved not to be civilized and acceptable to the world in this 21st century yet because of recent Rohingya issue. Myanmar needs more years to fight for garment exportation like Bangladesh in terms of quality.
The factories of Vietnam are not so developed as the modern factories of Bangladesh. Though many think their factories are safe due to the vertical extension policy but in reality is the opposite! The workers have to go through a quite safety-less transportation system. Sometimes they die in different accidents for overloading in the trucks.
In Cambodia, it is the almost daily affair that the workers have been protesting for various demands to be met. Some of the factory reports were terrifying regarding the labor rights.
Pakistan have been a hell from the very past for which no one wants to go there. The security guards pose in such a way that nobody dares to speak a single word about rights.
All is to say you won’t find any other safer garments industries as of Bangladesh. The buyers who can visit the garments factories of the competitive countries will place Bangladesh a bit more ahead than anyone else.
After all, considering quality, price, safety, commitment and worker rights the garments factories of Bangladesh are more developed, safer and more worker-friendly than most other countries in the world. To show negative attitude to the garments sector which is the chief impetus of the economy of Bangladesh and keeps our nation head-high is a part of the conspiracy against the country. It is high time to unveil them who are trying to sell our fame to the foreign organizations, who are poking the docile workers against the management systems.
Otherwise, the nation has to suffer in the long run, our beloved motherland will lag behind.
Otherwise, the dream of economic enhancement will be nipped in the bud.
Writer: Editor & Publisher, The RMG Times.