Bangladeshi RMG Sector
1950 was the beginning of R.M.G in the Western World. In order to control the level of imported RMG products from developing countries into developed countries, the Multi Fibre Agreement(MFA) was made in 1974. The MFA agreement imposed an export rate 6 percent increase every year from a developing country to a developed country. In the early 1980s Bangladesh started receiving investment in the RMG sector. Some Bangladeshis received free training from the Korean Company Daewoo. After these workers came back to Bangladesh, many of them broke ties with the factory they were working for and started their own factories.
Facts and figures
In the 1980s, there were only 50 factories employing only a few thousand people. Currently, there are 4490 manufacturing units. The RMG sector contributes around 76 percent to the total export earnings. In 2007 it earned $9.35 billion. This sector also contributes around 13 percent to the GDP, which was only around 3 percent in 1991. Of the estimated 4.2 million people employed in this sector, about 50 percent of them are women from rural areas. In 2000, the industry consisting of some 3000 factories employed directly more than 1.5 million workers of whom almost 80% were female. USA is the largest importer of Bangladeshi RMG products, followed by Germany, UK, France and other E.U countries.
Women in the garment industry
Garment sector is the largest employer of women in Bangladesh. The garment sector has provided employment opportunities to women from the rural areas that previously did not have any opportunity to be part of the formal workforce. This has given women the chance to be financially independent and have a voice in the family because now they contribute financially. However, the women workers are facing many problems. Most women come from low income families. Low wage of women workers and their compliance have enabled the industry to compete with the world market. Women are paid far less than men mainly due to their lack education. Women are reluctant to unionize because factory owners threaten to fire them. Even though trade unionization is banned inside the Export processing Zones (EPZ), the working environment is better than that of the majority of garment factories that operate outside the EPZs. But, pressure from buyers to abide by labor codes has enabled factories to maintain satisfactory working conditions. In recent times, garment workers have protested against their low wages. The firsts protests broke out in 2006, and since then, there have been periodic protests by the workers. This has forced the government to increase minimum wages of workers.
Problems surrounding ready made garments sector:
The garment industry of Bangladesh has been the key export division and a main source of foreign exchange for the last 25 years. National labor laws do not apply in the EPZs, leaving BEPZA in full control over work conditions, wages and benefits. Garment factories in Bangladesh provide employment to 40 percent of industrial workers. But without the proper laws the worker are demanding their various wants and as a result conflict is began with the industry
1. Raw materials:
Bangladesh imports raw materials for garments like cotton, thread color etc. This dependence on raw materials hampers the development of garments industry. Moreover, foreign suppliers often supply low quality materials, which result in low quality products
2. Unskilled workers:
Most of the illiterate women workers employed in garments are unskilled and so their products often become lower in quality.
3. Improper working environment:
Taking the advantages of workers' poverty and ignorance the owners forced them to work in unsafe and unhealthy work place overcrowded with workers beyond capacity of the factory floor and improper ventilation.
Most of the garment factories in our country...
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