Garment makers fear widespread labour unrest because of shutdown of some factories and deferred payment to workers as fallout from global recession bites Bangladesh. They said at least seven factories have already been shut down and some are in a critical situation as the number of orders from international buyers declined significantly.
The manufacturers and the leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) were speaking at a meeting with the editors, chairmen and managing directors of print and electronic media at Sonargaon Hotel last night.
At the meeting, BGMEA President Abdus Salam Murshedy said many people had earlier thought that Bangladesh would remain immune to the recession as the country mainly produces basic garment items. But the country is now losing out the market of basic items to competing countries such as China, India and Pakistan, Murshedy said.
Referring to a string of measures taken by different countries, the BGMEA chief said China has been giving a 17 percent tax rebate to exporters, which makes the country more competitive than before. Similarly, India, Pakistan and Vietnam are giving bailout packages to the garment sector, he said.
Anwar-Ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez, the immediate past BGMEA president, said the competing countries are enjoying the facilities of lead-time, higher cash incentives, higher productivity from the workers and policy supports, whereas the Bangladeshi manufacturers are struggling to get “basic support” from the government.
Tipu Munshi MP, another former BGMEA president, said the government would not lose anything if it offers any package for the garment sector, as the sector directly employed three million workers and involved 20 million people indirectly.
Moazzem Hossain, editor of The Financial Express, urged garment manufacturers to assess the impact of global price fall of basic commodities and demand drop of locally made garment items.
Source: The Daily Star, 13 April 2009