Dhaka, 15 thousand textile workers lose their jobs in coronavirus crisis
by Sumon Corraya

Many who continue to work are not paid. The country is the second largest textile manufacturer in the world; the sector employs 4 million people. Without orders from abroad, the factory owners fire or do not pay the staff. Unions and Catholic Church: protect workers.

 


Dhaka (AsiaNews) - In Bangladesh, 15,000 workers in the textile industry have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus. Of those who have kept their jobs, many are not being paid.

The pandemic crisis is hitting the populous country's economy hard. At the moment there are 1572 cases of contagion and 60 deaths. Dhaka authorities have imposed quarantine, and restrictions on movement, but some textile companies continue production.

After China, Bangladesh is the world's leading manufacturer and export of clothing items. The industry in the sector - the flagship of national production - employs more than 4 million people, mostly women.

The problem is the drop in demand. Without orders from abroad, especially from Europe, producers cut staff or do not pay workers. “After the economic lockdown decided by the government, I  isolated in my house for a few days. On April 5, I went back to the factory, discovering that I had been fired", Amana Akter tells AsiaNews.

The woman lives in Savar, a district of the capital. For her, as for many Bangladeshi, it will be difficult to survive without a job: “I don't know if I will be able to find another job. I can't even move and reach my village in the north of the country. "

Thousands of stories in Bangladesh are similar to that of Amana. Another textile worker, Rashidul Islam, says he hasn't received a salary for two months. The factory where he works cannot sell enough and its owner has blocked payments to staff. Rashidul lives in Ashulia, near Dhaka, and is the father of two children. Without money he will not be able to feed the family and pay the rent. In order to survive, he is forced to borrow money.

Babul Akhtar, secretary general of the national union of textile workers, asked industry owners to pay wages and stop layoffs. “The owners of the companies - he says - should help the workers. It's a question of justice, but it's also in their interest. "

Akhtar then invites foreign buyers not to cancel orders. Liton Hubert Gomes, secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, is of the same idea. He concludes the government must carefully monitor the situation in textile factories and ensure that workers are treated fairly.

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