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Bangladesh garment units in a bind

Many readymade garment factories in Bangladesh may shut down over compliance issues. In the last one year, more than 80,000 workers have become jobless following the closure of about 220 non-compliant garment factories in the country. 

This is an unwelcome development for the country's once-buzzing apparel industry that was acclaimed the world over. Most of the factories now out of production are small and medium scale ones. They face challenges due to compliance issues, wage hikes and a fall in work orders. The compliance conditions were prescribed by western nations for preventing tragedies such as the Rana Plaza collapse and the Tazreen Fashions factory fire.

Dismal working conditions in the country’s $20 billion apparel industry have been under global scrutiny. Overloaded ceilings, exposed cables, too few fire alarms and sprinklers, and locked emergency exits are just a few of the hazards that inspections have revealed. Some factories have not been upgraded in as long as a decade, some even three decades.

Factory owners have been hit in recent months by worker protests and flash strikes demanding better pay and safer working conditions. The garment and textile industry is crucial to Bangladesh. It provides the much-needed jobs and export earnings. Without textiles, Bangladesh, already burdened by immense poverty, would see its economy collapse.