Deadlock in Ashulia industrial belt
Garments industry has remarkably added value to our national economy since the emergence of Bangladesh. It is well-known that the two major bastions of the Bangladesh economy shape the balance of our international trade — one is inflow of foreign remittance contributed by more than five million Bangladeshis working abroad and the other one is RMG export.
Actually, RMG is not only the major part of our economy but it also exhibits our potential in international trade and commerce. More than five million workers, most of them women, are entrusted with this industry. Amidst great unemployment, this sector creates a balance in employment.
Although, there is criticism labour exploitation by the entrepreneurs in this regard, our RMG sector survives because the cost of production in comparison to other RMG exporting countries is cheaper, which is why the global meltdown could not badly affect our garments sector.
In the meantime, the rate of inflation is shattering the cost of living globally. It may be noted here that majors players in the RMG export sector are China, Vietnam, India etc, whose are facing a crisis due to the fall in the unit price of garments, as under their existing pay structure, they can’t afford to run the business smoothly, so that a good number of orders are shifting to our industry.
We know that the major buyers of garments are USA and European countries who are still now facing severe recession. They are not in a position to buy their clothes as before, so that the robust trend of export has already been hindered, as the capacity of consumption of those countries has already declined. Besides, high inflation affected the export oriented countries in terms of their survival in business. In connection with the other countries, the cost of living of ordinary people in Bangladesh has increased a lot, but their pay doesn’t equate with their cost of purchasing the essential items of daily life, resulting in, the recent labour unrest in this sector, located in Ashulia. Such a notion is not out of relevance, though there might have been another reason, which is they may have been instigated to get agitated through the influence of some vested quarters.
My observation is, the present situation prevailing in the Ashulia industrial belt is not a good sign for far-reaching prospects of the sector. Total shutdown ordered by the BGMEA/BKMEA, because of insecurity, is not acceptable as a lot of export orders placed by overseas buyers will definitely miss its date of shipment, which will incur great losses if it persists for a longer period. In this connection, according to vernacular daily, $10 million dollar loss is incurred everyday because of shutdown.
The simple question that arises, have all avenues of negotiations collapsed to settle the issue and no other path of solution exists anymore? The root causes may be different, but the overall failure in tackling the situation, despite the deployment of law enforcing agencies, is a great fiasco. The decision made by the BGMEA/BKMEA, putting the blame on unruly labours is also not justifiable as a whole. The way the total sector of that area collapsed suddenly is a major threat to the national economy. If the ongoing tense situation persists for long period, it will invite havoc not only for the economy but also on social harmony. Also, the existing factories may be relocated to other destinations.
It should be remembered by all that most of the industrial workers are women, who depend on their petty jobs. Now if they are jobless all of a sudden they may get involved in antisocial activities. Moreover, the flame of the wave could engulf other parts of the industrial area. The situation then will be more volatile, so that authorities concerned with the issue should resolve it immediately on priority basis, as it is, I think, more vulnerable and important than that of political stability. Moreover some new problems should also be addressed in a proper way, such as abduction of workers, establishing a unified CBA wherein the concern parties can deliberate on their common interests.
It also important to note that any design or conspiracy, whether it is carried out by any foreign agents who are competitors in our international market, or any sabotage by local people, it should be found out.
In the light of its far-reaching effects, the deadlock prevailing in Ashulia industrial belt should be resolved without any delay by applying any strategy that suits the issue.
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