Employers point to higher production costs for lay-offs. For the national workers' federation, redundancies are not a problem because most workers ‘found a new job in another company". Bangladesh risks being overtaken by Vietnam in garment exports.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – At least 50 garment factories have closed since February with 25,000 workers laid off, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has reported.
The critical state of the country's main export sector, which employs at least four million workers, mostly women, has had major repercussions for the workers, who have protested and rallied against redundancies. For their part, factory owners blame job losses on higher production costs.
Some women workers spoke to AsiaNews complaining about losing their job. "Employers say the costs have increased, but wages have not increased as well,” said Rumana Akter. “Instead of increasing the wages of experienced workers, they hire new staff for low salaries. They fired us without even telling us. Where will I go to work now?” she bemoans.
According to the BGMEA, production costs for clothing exports have increased by 18 per cent in the last four years. This has led to a 7 per cent drop in demand by UK and US buyers.
Munzural Islam, 45, earned 28,000 taka (US0). After protesting to obtain a raise, he was fired. Now he works in another factory where he is paid 20,000 taka (US5). In his view, "garment owners dismiss senior employees to cut production costs."
Amrual Haq Amin, president of the National Garment Workers Federation, confirms the closure of small factories and the loss of 25,000 jobs. However, "the situation for the sector is good and the majority (of the laid-off) found a new job in another company".
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment manufacturer after China. Vietnam is in third place, and has recently gained ground over Bangladesh with shorter delivery times, better logistical support, greater port capacity and direct foreign investments for production that relocated from China.