Workers’ protests led to 300 garment units forced to shut down in Bangladesh

Demanding higher wages

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Silhouette illustration in colour with a group of people on strike

The ongoing labour movement demanding higher wages has resulted in approximately 300 garment factories located in areas such as Mirpur, Ashulia, Chandra, Gazipur, and several others to temporarily shut down.

This is as per media reports, which claimed on 1 November around 250 garment factories in Gazipur, Chandra, Kashimpur, Ashulia, Kaliakair, Shafipur, and Mirpur stopped operations, and an additional 50-60 factories joined the list of closures on Wednesday.

However, the precise number of factories that remained shut has not been confirmed yet, according to officials from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), responsible for addressing labour-related matters, reports added.

In response to the labour unrest, factory owners have opted to implement a “no work, no pay” policy.

Nonetheless, there are concerns among some owners that this approach might not yield the desired results.

The worker protests are unfolding in the midst of a broader economic backdrop marked by challenges such as export and import issues, reduced demand, Taka devaluation, and inflation.

Meanwhile, exporters have cautioned that if the labour unrest is not swiftly resolved, it could potentially impact Bangladesh’s exports significantly, given that the apparel industry constitutes nearly 85 per cent of the country’s total exports in the fiscal year 2023.

AKM Shahid Reza, chairman of the Reza Group, which operates three apparel factories in Ashulia, reportedly maintained “all factories in Ashulia were shuttered on Wednesday, with workers clocking in using their time cards and then leaving.”

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