DEMONSTRATIONS by a large number of workers of garments and knitwear factories were held at Dhaka, Chittagong, Fatulla, Ashulia and Savar in recent years. Frequent labour unrest interrupted operation of the factories and caused loss of life and property. No doubt, low wages of workers is one of the major reasons behind the current unrest among them as the cost of living in the areas they live has shown an upward trend. Fire and other accidents in factories are a commonplace. About nine hundred to one thousand workers are working in every factory. When labour unrest erupts in one factory, it spreads like wild fire and thousands of workers in neighbouring factories assemble there and hold demonstrations. It is not rational to set up labour-intensive industries at a particular place. Workers in general are too emotional in Bangladesh. Most of the workers do not even have elementary education.
In different garment and knit hubs more than a hundred factories have been set up. It is observed that even a small labour problem or a rumour of one factory spreads to neighbouring factories within an hour and a riot-like situation is created. The promoters of labour-intensive ventures should bear in mind the above important factors at the time of selecting sites for their factories. The government should come forward to develop small industrial estates at different suitable locations. When safe and properly designed factory buildings are constructed at different geographical locations, opportunity for employment of un-skilled and skilled workers of different areas will be created. The government should develop small industrial estates beside the highways where 80 to 100 factories can be located. The estate should be located at one to two kilometre away from the main highway and connected by a linking road. It will keep the highway unaffected in the event of labour unrest in an estate.
A garment and knit village may be developed at the south-west side of Muktarpur Bridge in Munshiganj district. In the said locality and nearby areas, huge number of workers are available for employment who can be safely engaged in various sections of the mills. As the locality is only an hour’s drive from zero point of capital Dhaka, good number of management employees will also be available. The industrialists should grab this opportunity as the cost of living in the area is low in that area and in the vicinity. I would like to urge the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation to develop a garment and knit village at the south-west of Muktarpur Bridge in Munshiganj district.
Md. Ashraf Hossain