Coronavirus takes away the joys of Eid from RMG workers in Gazipur

TBS Report
01 August, 2020, 07:05 pm
The novel coronavirus has taken away the joys of Eid-ul-Adha from the lives of ready-made garment (RMG) workers living in Gazipur.

Due to the prolonged shutdown and order cancellations by buyers, these people have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet.

One such unfortunate RMG worker named Sabuj said, “Nowadays, to survive has become tough. How on earth can we celebrate Eid? We do not have any work and our dues are piling up.”

“It’s been long since I brought beef from the market and fed my family. This Eid I went from door to door of people who were able to perform the holy sacrificial rituals and worked as a part time butcher only to secure a packet full of meat.”

“I will celebrate Eid with my wife with this packet of meat,” added Sabuj.

Like Sabuj around six thousand RMG workers have lost their jobs in the last six months. These people living in rented houses in Gazipur have their dues climbing each day.

They are now changing their professions and struggling to survive this blow from the coronavirus.

Not only the workers but also the locals of Gazipur are anxious about the situation and are unsure of what the future holds for them. These people and their distressed families have celebrated an Eid with anxiety and sadness rather than with joy.

According to data provided by the industrial police, there are around 2,072 RMG factories in Gazipur. Of those, 830 are under Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), 138 under Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), 122 under Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMEA) and 982 under various other organisations.

In the last six months around 10,736 workers have been laid off form these factories. Due to the coronavirus lockdowns all around the world, these layoffs took place between January 1 and July 8 this year.

From among the 2,000 plus factories, only 878 have paid Eid bonuses to their workers who still have a job, while 1,591 factories could pay the due salaries for June.

Majority of the workers who are regularly working in factories right now are still deprived of their Eid bonuses.

Mominur Rahman Momin, central organiser at Garments Workers Unity Forum, said a memorandum has been given to the concerned authorities to reinstate the workers who have been laid off during the coronavirus pandemic.

Momin said, “Due to the Eid holidays and the coronavirus pandemic we could not launch a protest against this with the laid off workers. But we have given a memorandum to the home minister, BGMEA and other organisations to reinstate the laid off workers.”

“We will announce the new action plan regarding protest after Eid,” added Momin.

Momin also mentioned that a list of laid off workers have been made and a list of workers who have left their workplace permanently and went to their villages is also underway.

Momin added that they have distributed assistance among 500 odd workers.

Owner of Eon Knit Composite factory in Gazipur, Md Masud Hasan said, “The number of foreign orders has decreased due to the coronavirus pandemic and the number of buyers have decreased as well.”

“That is why we had to close our factory for a long time. To avoid losses, we had to lay off 200 factory workers and currently the factory has 150 workers employed.”

“We have decided to re-open our factory after Eid with those 150 workers,” added Masud.