BGMEA backtracks from closing factories

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Friday backtracked on its earlier stance on the closure of factories to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) as the announcement resulted in a dispute among the readymade garment factory owners.

BGMEA president Rubana Huq on Friday issued a clarification over her previous announcement of closing factories and now allowed production in the factories which have export orders and who are producing products to protect coronavirus including personal protection equipment, masks, hand wash and medicine.

Rubana on Thursday recommended that all the BGMEA members should announce the closure of their factories in line with the government’s announcement of public holiday to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The announcement made division among the factory owners and a section of RMG exporters alleged that many of companies who were producing export orders for global buyers and making PPEs for the country to prevent coronavirus outbreak, industry people said.

The RMG exporters, who opposed the BGMEA president’s decision, also discussed the issue with the government and sought direction so that factories could run their production to complete the existing export orders and produce PPEs, said industry insiders.

Against such backdrop, the BGMEA president on Friday announced that the factories, who have global export orders and who are producing PPEs, masks, hand wash and medicine, could be run with adequate precautionary measures for the workers’ health.

The division among the RMG exporters also prompted the government to issue a notification saying that the factory owners who had export orders and who were producing PPEs, masks, hand sanitisers and medicine to prevent coronavirus, could run their factories with ensuring workers’ health safety.

The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments in its notification said that the prime minister in her address to the nation on March 25 announced incentive Tk 5,000 crore for the payment of wages to the workers of export oriented sectors and directed to ensure health protection of the workers.

The department said that there was no direction in the prime minister’s speech to close down factories.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association president AKM Salim Osman on Friday issued a special direction to its members to keep all knit factories closed until April 4 to prevent coronavirus outbreak and to save people.

Country’s earnings from readymade garment exports stood at $34.13 billion in the financial year 2018-19, which was nearly 83 per cent of the country’s total export earnings.

More than 40 lakh workers work in nearly 4,500 export-oriented readymade garment factories across the country. (Source: New Age)

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