The actual number of workers in Bangladesh’s readymade garment sector is uncertain. It is estimated that some 4.4 million workers, most of whom are women, are employed in the sector, although there is no specific data on the number of male and female workers or their ratio.
Many believe nearly 80 per cent workers in the sector are female. But there has been an increase in male participation following the adoption of more modern technologies in the sector. The importance of a central database for workers was seriously felt after the Tazreen fire and the Rana Plaza collapse, as it took a long time in proper identification of victims due to the absence of such a database. It also delayed the process of compensation for affected workers and their dependents.
Both the apex apparel trade bodies – BGMEA and BKMEA – are yet to complete preparing a biometric database of the workers under their respective member factories. Till date, some 2.95 million workers of some 2,136 member factories of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association have been enlisted. On the other hand, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association has been able to enlist the workers of only 147 of its member factories so far, out of active 900 units, in its database.