At present Garment is the main industry og Bangladesh now. This sector have developed here rapidly because of it is a labour intensive industry, ordinary technology, cheap labour and small capital. Before liberation in 1970, in Bangladesh there was only one garment factory. In 1977, the number rose to 8. In 1984, the number was 587. In 1998, the number stood at 2650 and now the number of garments in Bangladesh is 3300.
In Bangladesh garment factories are situated in Dhaka, Chitagong, Narayangong, Savar and Tongi-Gazipur (see Map of Bangladesh). The Number of Garment workers in Bangladesh is 1.6 million. Number of woman workers is 1.320.000 and men 280.000.
Seventy Sicx percent of total export of Bangladesh is garment oriented. Mainly Bangladeshi garments products are exported to the USA, Canada, European Union and Carribean countries. Recently Bangladesh started export to Japan, Australia and some other countries in small scale. Bangladesh exports 63 items of garments products. Main raw materials of garments — mainly fabrics comes from other countries.
Condition Of Garments Workers In Bangladesh
In reality the condition of garments workers in Bangladesh is very bad. There are some changes due to the labour unrest, trade union movements, Social pressure and for the pressure of developed countries consumers. But till now Living standard of workers is unacceptable
There is no law for the national minimum wage. There are scopes to fix the minimum wage in sector based: In every 3 years, the minimum wage is supposed to be revised but it is not followed in the all sectors. In 1994, the minimun wage for the garment workers was fixed at Tk. 930/ per month (1) for the unskilled workers and Tk. 2300/ for skilled workers. This minimum wage was not revised till now. Even till now, the minimum wage of 1994, was not implemented in the whole sector. Till now, in many cases the unskilled workers receive Tk. 800/ per month. Most of the garment factories do not follow the labour law and ILO conventions. Most of the cases the workers cannot enjoy the weekly holiday. There is no Job security, social security, gratuity or provident fund for the garment workers. Most of the cases the management do not provide appointment letters/ contract letters, identity cards and service books. According to the Labour Law, the maximum working hour per day is 10 including the 2 hours overtime. But in most of the cases workers are forced to work 14 to 16 hours per day. Some times they work whole night. Overtime work is compulsory and forceful. There is not housing facilities from the owners. Most of the cases maternity leaves is absence. Most of the cases there is no transportation facilities. Most of the cases, there is no doctor, first aid, sufficient light and ventilatioin. In some cases there are no sufficient and pure drinking water and toilets for the workers. According to law, women work is prohibited afper 8 pm. But the women workers are bound to work until 10 pm or 11 pm. Even in some cases they work the whole night. Most of the cases maternity leaves is absence. Most of the factories do not have the day care centers. Most of the cases, management do not pay the monthly wage and overtime payment within 7th of the next month. In many cases monthly wage and overtime payment is out standing for 2/3 months. Health-safety and security condition are not sufficient. Management do not allow the workers to join the trade union or formation of trade union though the workers have the trade union rights according to the labour law and ILO conventions. Management fires the workers if he/she joint in the trade union. Some times they threaded the workers and even close down the plant for the formation of trade union. Management does not ensure the security of the women workers. Women workers faced rape and sexual harassment out side the factories and some times inside the factories. There is other form of sex discrimination. Women workers are deprived from Equal wage, Equal dignity, Equal rights and Equal promotions.
1) Tk. = Taka; 1 US$ ~ 50 Tk. (1999)
Trade Union Movement In Garments Sector
Trade Union movement in garments sector is very weak. Even it is weaker than other sectors. There are 8 country wide registered trade union federations. There are 9 federations registered as division based. Another 5 registered federations are combined with Jute, Textile and leather Sector. Apart from these, there are 6 unregistered federations in this sector. There are 3 alliances in the garment sector. These are: 1. Bangladesh Garments Workers Unity Council. 2. Bangladesh Garments Workers and Employees Unity Council. 3. B.N.C.C. (Bangladesh Coordinating Comittee, affiliated with (ITGLWF).
Reasons Of The Weakness Of Trade Union Movement In Bangladesh
Main Reason of the Weakness of trade union movement of garment sector in Bangladesh are: 1. Disunity and division of organizations. 2. Unlimited and long working hours. 3. Absence of Job security. 4. Migration from factory to factory. 5. Absence of weekly holiday and other holidays. 6. Maiority of women. 7. State policy. 8. Elite class ownership. 9. Low wage. 10. Unemployment of the country.
National Garments Workers Federation
National Garments Workers Federation is a countrywide registered Independent, Democratic and Progressive Trade Union Federation of garment workers in Bangladesh. The federation was established on 1984. There are 28 registered trade unions (plant unions) affiliated with the NGWF. Beside these, the federation has 1016 factory committees. From 1984, the federation is involved in all the important movements including several countrywide strikes in the garment sector. Total membership of the federation is: 20.000 paying member: 5.100 and Non paying: 14.900.
Central Office of the federation is at 27/11/1 Topkhana road, Dhaka-1000. There are 3 others branch offices of the federation in Chitagong, Savar and Tongi.
The federation is run by its written constitution and participations of its members in a democratic way.