BANGLADESH: Textile Industry Plagued With Problems
Bangladesh textile and apparel industries were closed on 11th and 12th September due to a two day protest strike called by the Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (SKOP). The strike was in protest against the government's failure to meet a commitment it had made to the Union a couple of years back. SKOP, a very powerful Bangladeshi pressure group, is a conglomerate of eighteen trade union organisations. The strikers action got some result, with the government pledging to act on some of their demands. This strike has come at a time when major power outages have become common, and Bangladesh is suffering a 20 to 30 per cent power shortage. While media and politicians paid attention to the strike, industry insiders continued to be more concerned with the power outages. On September 13, the president of Bangladesh's Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Anisur Rahman Sinha, joined the Presidents of two apex chambers, Latifur Rahman of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Aftabul Islam of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in giving a press conference expressing concern and asking the Government to take drastic action. The apparel factories in and around Dhaka city alone were incurring losses to the tune of Bangladeshi Takas 20m (US$200,000) for every hour of load shedding. The industry recently suffered another shock when a leading apparel factory at Banani, Gulshan Garments, caught fire at the end of August. Twelve people were killed. While the problem of child labour has attracted worldwide media attention, the unsafe working conditions in apparel factories here, as demonstrated by this tragedy, have not attracted any notice.
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