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Labour issues threaten ready-made garment sector

Mar '07
RMG sector, which accounts for more than 70 percent of overall exports and enjoys special facilities in global clothing markets, has been facing allegations from competitor countries of exploiting child labour. This has damaged its reputation significantly.

RMG importers demanded abolishment of child labour in factories, but on other hand they kept buying clothes from the country.

MFA phase-out on December 31, 2004 highlighted child labour exploitation, with people fearing that hundreds of garment factories would closedown forever as a result and thousands of workers would become redundant. This situation was prevented by the combined efforts of Bangladeshi Government and RMG leaders.

During mid-2006, RMG units surrounding Dhaka faced labour unrest with labourers demanding improved working conditions and higher wages. These facilities endured heavy damage and it was doubted that external forces were causing the happenings to destabilize RMG industry.

Labour unrest occurred mainly because certain factory owners were exploiting poor workers with bad working conditions and unacceptable pays. Although BGMEA managed to solve this issue with great difficulty, importers started asking for better conditions for workers and eradication of child labour.

Labour organizations and media agencies of US and UK have been campaigning against RMG sector for last six months. US Senate is considering a bill titled 'The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act', which when passed will allow any US citizen or organization to file cases against importers who deal with non-compliant apparel units.

If the compliance issue is not taken seriously, it will become a big obstacle to the RMG sector's progress.

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Pic: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

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