BGMEA President Faruque Hassan
Guardian article on female garment workers in Bangladesh not only offensive but also a gross overgeneralization: BGMEA Chief
A recent article published by The Guardian, framing the lives of female garment workers in Bangladesh between factory and brothel, is not only offensive but also a gross overgeneralization, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan has said. It risks overshadowing the remarkable transformation of women's empowerment propelled by the nation's RMG industry, he said in a statement, condemning the article that he said “defames women at work.” "It’s true that individual hardships exist, but framing women workers within a single struggle is potentially harming them by provoking radicalism, causing social stigma and mental illness," Faruque said. Such a narrative is a disservice to their lives and dreams they cherish, he said. “The report itself appears to be incorrect to us as it says that the mentioned female worker works for a large factory, it didn’t mention the name; and there is hardly any export-oriented garment factory located at the place as the report mentions, except for a few tailoring facilities catering to the local market only,” he said. “The report does not only perpetuate harmful stereotypes against women at work, but also defames an industry that employs millions of women and contributes significantly to national economy," said the BGMEA chief. Rest of the BGMEA chief's statement Consider this: in a moderate Muslim country, Bangladesh has emerged as a model in the region in women’s empowerment and gender parity, he said. “The World Economic Forum's recent Gender Gap Report places Bangladesh at the top in South Asia for gender equality for the 9th consecutive year, ranking the country 59th globally. “The labor force participation rate of women has soared from a mere 8% in 1983 to a remarkable 38% today. Read: Despite anticipated challenges in 2024, int’l market demand for RMG products could rise: BGMEA Director “Women’s contribution to Bangladesh's GDP growth is estimated at a staggering 34% and it continues to rise. “For millions of less privileged women having less literacy and skills, the RMG industry is the first formal sector of employment. “Through this industry, women have emerged as the critical support for their families, achieving economic independence and social empowerment. “Early marriage and motherhood are declining, primarily education enrolment is on the rise and as per many experts, the industry has led to increase in girls’ schooling. “Maternal and child health, too, have gained momentum, nourished by improved nutrition and a heightened awareness of healthcare. “The ascent isn't confined to the shop floor. Women are scaling the ranks, their talents are gracing technical departments in the industry like industrial engineering, product designing and merchandising, as well as taking on leadership positions. “When they leave the factories, they leave footprints of entrepreneurial spirit, transforming into owners of their own businesses. Read: Sustainable fashion: Bangladesh's RMG sector leads with 24 new LEED green factories in 2023 “This industry has become a launchpad for leadership. “While writing a report remotely, without having proper understanding of the background and reality, to deliberately portray the bleak picture, one must acknowledge the broader narrative – millions of women rising from poverty, gaining skills, and forging a path towards brighter futures for themselves and their families. “Beyond all these, the industry has taken an unprecedented stance to support aspiring women workers to pursue their dream for higher education. “Currently around 90 young female RMG workers are pursuing higher studies in the Asian University for Women under the Pathways for Promise program. “While the girls pursue their bachelor studies with full scholarship from the university, the employer factories continue to pay the full wages to them throughout the entire tenure of their study. “The ‘promise’ is to make them fearless and think big. Not only that, through this industry women have got the opportunity to emerge as the critical support to the family. “There are numerous instances that the sons and daughters of workers are pursuing higher education in engineering, medical science and many more disciplines through the humble support of the factories. “This is our story, one of transformation, of empowerment, of women rising like threads on a loom, weaving a new Bangladesh. Let us move beyond sensationalized headlines and acknowledge the multifaceted reality of women at work. Read more: Milestone for RMG as Bangladesh becomes top source of Knitwear into EU market “Let us celebrate their achievements, address their challenges, and work towards a future where all Bangladeshi women can thrive, in factories and beyond. “Our garment workers are the heartbeat of our industry, and I, for one, find my strength in their courage, their resilience, and their unwavering spirit. They are the threads that bind our nation together, the driving force propelling us towards a future where gender is not a barrier, but a bridge – a future where Bangladeshi women stand tall, not just as workers, but as architects of their own destinies.”
BGMEA president seeks American Apparel & Footwear Association’s support in responsible purchasing practice
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has written to President and CEO of American Apparel & Footwear Association, Stephen Lamar, seeking support in terms of responsible purchasing practices. “To ensure uninterrupted and smoother operation in the industry, it is important that prices of all goods which will be shipped from 1 December, 2023 are duly adjusted/ up-charged covering the increment in wage component,” BGMEA President Faruque Hassan wrote. The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is a national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn product companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. From now onward, the BGMEA president said, all business negotiations and deals will have to be made adhering to the new minimum wage policy. Read: Owners are free to close their garment factories until vandalism ends: BGMEA “Therefore, I would humbly request you to kindly pursue the AAFA members to collaborate with their Bangladeshi suppliers with due empathy and consideration,” the BGMEA chief wrote in his letter. “With every effort and action we take, we mean to complement our long term goal, which is to grow mutually and sustainably. We are working with our government relentlessly to ensure more favorable environment for business,” Faruque said. “You are following the improvements made and progress by the government to create better infrastructure and policies supporting envisioned growth and efficiency. I am sure with your continued support and collaboration we will continue to thrive," said the BGMEA President. In his letter to Lamar, the BGMEA chief said the minimum wage in 2023 for garment workers was declared by the government on November 7. Read: BGMEA provides financial assistance to families of deceased workers The declaration was made based on the proposal submitted by the Minimum Wage Board, and was widely consulted and agreed by the stakeholders including workers’ and employers’ representatives, he said. As per the new minimum wage, the gross minimum monthly wage of the 7th grade workers has been set at Tk 12,500, equivalent to around USD 113.63 – a 56.25 percent increase of the gross wage while the basic wage has gone up by 63.41 percent. The new minimum wages comes at a time when the global economy is going through an unprecedented situation, so is Bangladesh’s economy, said the BGMEA chief. “The RMG industry in Bangladesh is feeling the heat of this crisis, especially with soaring inflation, all our input costs have increased significantly including fuel, gas, electricity, transportation,” he said. Read: BGMEA ready to implement new pay structure govt announces by Dec: BGMEA President From the first of July this year, Bangladesh Bank has increased interest rates which made trade and investment finance more costly. “You are aware that since 2013, the industry had to make a huge investment to ensure international standard workplace safety, which we have done diligently despite all the difficulties,” he wrote. “Now to align with global climate action agenda, our factories are making further investment to reduce GHG emission and be more resource efficient. Not only that, for ensuring workplace safety, comfort for our workers and to reduce fatigue, factories are upgrading machine, process and production method,” said the BGMEA president. “Through all these efforts, Bangladesh has emerged as a reliable, sustainable and one of the most preferred sourcing destinations,” Faruque said, adding that all these initiatives and investments have impact on the business, in relative and absolute term. Read: BGMEA seeks NBR support to sustain RMG industry's global competitiveness amidst ongoing challenges “Now, with the increase in the minimum wages, this industry has taken the challenge to ensure better living standards of the workers while maintaining competitiveness,” he said. The raise in the minimum wage, especially 63.41 percent raise in the basic wage, leads to higher benefit for the workers in terms of overtime benefit, earned leave encashment, festival bonus and other allowances, Faruque said. “The implementation of the new wage structure would exert a huge financial impact on the factories. This will be challenging for many of our factories to implement the new wage in the current economic and financial circumstances,” he wrote in the letter. However, Faruque said, ensuring decent living standards of the workers is a top priority for them, as well as for global brands and retailers. “Since we have accepted the new minimum wage, we will ensure implementation of it, and we need your support in terms of responsible purchasing practice,” the BGMEA president wrote in the letter to the CEO of American Apparel & Footwear Association.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan on Sunday (November 12, 2023) said the owners of the RMG units can keep their factories closed under the law to protect industry and property until the vandalism is stopped and law enforcement agencies are able to ensure adequate security. “Every entrepreneur has a constitutional right to protect his own industry and properties from outsiders,” he told a media briefing at BGMEA office at Uttara. The BGMEA chief repeated that for the sake of the country and the industry, to protect the employment of the worker siblings, if the working brothers and sisters do not work in any factory, leave the factory without working, vandalize the factory, then the factory authorities can keep the factory closed under section 13 (1) of the Labor Act. Garment workers’ protest: 130 factories in Ashulia, Savar, Dhamrai closed Faruque said as there is currently less work in many factories in the garment sector, buyers have stopped placing new orders; they have asked to stop new recruitment. “New appointments will be made when the situation improves,” said the BGMEA president. Faruque urged the government of Bangladesh to identify those who are plotting against this industry and take action. RMG worker injured in clash with law enforcers dies at DMCH “Also give us adequate security to run industries. Politics and economics complement each other. Remittance earning from the expatriates is experiencing a slowdown at the moment. In this situation, the garment industry, one of the main sectors of export earnings, deserves special attention,” he said. The government on Tuesday announced Tk 12,500 as minimum wage for entry level RMG workers, raising it by 56.25% from the existing one. State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian announced the new wage structure for RMG workers which will be effective from December 1. RMG workers unions have rejected the offer and instead asked for an increase of nearly Tk 23,000 a month. Many workers resorted to street protests clashing with police and vandalizing factories. Owners have announced indefinite shutdown of over 130 factories mainly in Gazipur and Ashulia areas. Govt announces Tk 12,500 as minimum salary for RMG workers The unrest for higher wage has left one female worker dead in police firing, dozens injured and arrested. Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Industrial Police Md Zakir Hossain Khan on Saturday said they smell a rat behind the unrest in the readymade garment (RMG) industry in Gazipur. "The government has already announced wages and our notion is that a group is instigating them [RMG workers] to do movement. We are identifying those who are provoking them [demonstrating workers]," he said. Police use tear gas shells as RMG workers protest in Gazipur
Clarifying a media report, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan on Sunday (November 05, 2023) said any attempt to generalize incident on the industry and the country at large is unacceptable. The news mentions about technical glitches such as choking and ingestion hazard found it specific product item for babies sourced and retailed by specific brand in specific country. "As the news report mentions about 12 countries withdrawing or recalling apparel made in Bangladesh, there is no reference to such claim, and we could not trace any evidence in support of this claim," he said. BGMEA ready to implement new pay structure govt announces by Dec: BGMEA President "We feel the urge to share this clarification so that misrepresentation of the fact is not repeated,' said the BGMEA chief. He also clarified the reference to OECD which was mentioned in the news report. OECD maintains a “Global portal on product recalls” and the OECD members’ product recall notices are listed in this portal. IMF delegation meets BGMEA President to discuss challenges and prospects of RMG sector Product recall for any valid reason is a standard practice and there are hundreds of such recalls listed in the OECD website as of today, said the BGMEA President. Furthermore, the OECD website mentions “Health Canada recalled more than 200,000 George Brand Sleepers on Wednesday for posing a risk of choking and ingestion. The recall of the product, sold at Wal-Mart, is for sizes 0-5T and affects two styles for boys and two for girls. Zipper pulls and foot grips of the sleepers may eventually separate after frequent washing, leading to choking and ingestion hazards, the agency said, adding it has not received any reports of injury in Canada.” "Therefore, the products were recalled due to certain risk of hazard, which is not the mistake of Bangladeshi manufacturer. Every product made in Bangladesh must pass through a stringent quality control process and laboratory tests including those of consumer health and safety," he said. All exportable products must meet the standards of the buyers and relevant legal requirement of the export markets. BGMEA seeks NBR support to sustain RMG industry's global competitiveness amidst ongoing challenges Any product failing to comply these health and safety requirement are usually rejected by buyers or denied entrance at the destination port. "So any misinterpretation like ‘apparel made in Bangladesh is banned in the mentioned countries’ is false," Hassan said. The alleged products were shipped from Bangladesh in early 2022 and were retailed in Canada from November 2022 to June 2023. Brunei High Commissioner meets BGMEA President to discuss trade-investment potential The product recall notice of Health Canada also mentions that “As of September 21, 2023, the company has not received any reports of incidents or injuries in Canada”. "I hope this statement of clarification will help all to clear any confusion on this matter and not to be misguided," said the BGMEA Chief.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has introduced a modern digital x-ray machine to BGMEA Hospital in Chattogram. The initiative aims to provide better medical services to garment workers free of cost. Underprivileged people will also have access to the facilities at a subsidised rate. BGMEA President Faruque Hassan inaugurated the machine service at the hospital. BGMEA First Vice-President Syed Nazrul Islam, Vice-President Rakibul Alam Chowdhury; directors Shafiul Karim (Khokon), M Ahsanul Hoq, and Director-in-Charge of the hospital Mohammed Meraj-E-Mostafa (Kaisar) and former directors were present on the occasion Monday. Read more: BGMEA for easy financing for SMEs in sustainability The digital x-ray machine has advanced features that will enable healthcare professionals at the BGMEA hospital to accurately diagnose the health conditions of the patients. BGMEA President Faruque Hassan said: "It's a high priority of the BGMEA to improve the health and well-being of garment workers who are the main driving force behind the RMG industry." BGMEA runs 10 health centres that provide healthcare facilities and medicines to garment workers free of cost while a full-fledged hospital is operational for workers in Chattogram, he said.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has sought the support of the government in implementing the apparel industry's vision of sustainable development and growth. BGMEA President Faruque Hassan made the call during his meeting with State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam Thursday. Faruque informed the state minister about the renewed vision of the BGMEA along with its new nine dot logo. The BGMEA recently unveiled its sustainable strategic vision to accelerate the growth of the readymade garments (RMG) industry in a way that is sustainable and positively impacts the economy, the environment and the lives of people. According to the Sustainable Strategic Vision 2030, the industry has set a target of exporting apparel worth $100 billion by 2030 while creating employment for 6 million people in the apparel sector during the period by ensuring 100 percent gender equality, inclusiveness, and a decent workplace. In line with sustainable development goals (SDGs), the industry aims to reduce carbon emissions, energy and groundwater usage, and increase the use of sustainable raw materials, use of ZDHC chemicals and renewable energy. Read: BGMEA unveils new vision Faruque said the renewed vision is aligned with the government's vision of sustainable development. He sought the government's support for the industry, especially in the areas of skill development, innovation and technology upgradation. Shamsul Alam congratulated the BGMEA on devising the strategic vision for sustainable development and assured of all-out support of the government for its implementation.