Production in many garment factories in and around the capital is set to be halted today as their workers are allegedly forced to join a rally in the capital.
Led by Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, the Garment Sramik Samannay Parishad will host the meeting at the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan protesting the indefinite blockade enforced by the BNP-led alliance.
“We’ve been counting losses every day since the blockade has been on as we can hardly transport our raw materials and finished products to and from the Chittagong port,” said a Gazipur-based knitwear exporter, seeking anonymity.
Continuation of production is important now as many factory owners wait for the weekend (Friday) when the workers can reach their workplaces easily, he added.
“The present political situation is very alarming for the garment business. It is the season for placing work orders, but the retailers are suspending their trips to Bangladesh for political unrest.”
The shipping minister has instructed the owners through some trade union leaders to send the workers to the rally, said the businessman.
Many factories in Gazipur, Ashulia and Savar operate on Friday as the weekly holiday of garment units varies from place to place, industry insiders said. Moreover, the owners are keen to cover up the production losses caused by the blockade.
Speaking at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity yesterday, minister Shajahan Khan, also the convener of the Garment Sramik Samannay Parishad, said they will hold the rally in a bid to unite people to resist any anarchy and chaos in the country.
Garment workers from Gazipur, Savar, Ashulia, Narayanganj and Dhaka are likely to join the rally.
“We are expecting more than one lakh workers at the rally,” said Sirajul Islam Rony, president of Bangladesh National Garment Workers’ Employees League.
The rally is important because the jobs of the workers are under threat from the prolonged blockade, he mentioned. “We want the workers go to their workplaces safely and the business also run smoothly.”
Many owners, said Rony, will not be able to pay salaries to their workers timely if normalcy does not return soon.
More than 400 garment factories were abruptly forced to suspend their production in September 2013 when the same minister had called a workers’ rally at the same venue.
Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the owners will not attend the rally as it is convened by the trade union leaders.
“But the workers can join the rally to express their opinion and establish their own rights,” he added.
On the loss of the day’s production, he said factories in many areas remain closed on Friday.
Protesting the ongoing political violence, business leaders and garment exporters on Wednesday formed a human chain in the capital and sought an immediate end to the political impasse to keep the country’s economy growing.
The garment makers also submitted memoranda to both Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia in this regard.