92pc RMG workers have no job docs


Staff Reporter :
In the intricate tapestry of Bangladesh’s garment industry, a troubling revelation has come to the fore: a staggering ninety-two percent of its ready-made garment factory laborers operate without the safeguard of written contracts.

This sobering statistic emerges from a comprehensive global study titled “Threaded Insecurity: the Spectrum of Informality in Garment Supply Chains.” Conducted in collaboration with 23 trade unions and rights organizations spanning six nations-Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka-by the esteemed Asian Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), this study unfolded between January 2020 and January 2024.

Yet, amidst this alarming revelation, discord arises. Faruque Hassan, the esteemed President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), staunchly rebuffs the study’s findings, arguing they fail to capture the nuanced realities of Bangladesh’s apparel industry.

Beyond Bangladesh’s borders, similar shadows of informality loom over the garment sectors of neighboring nations.

In Pakistan, a staggering ninety percent of interviewed workers, according to the AFWA report, toil without the shield of written contracts.
Meanwhile, in India, sixty-five percent of laborers endure similar precariousness.

In Bangladesh, registered garment factories are supplied by subcontracting orders from unregistered production facilities that operate without formal oversight from the government or brands, the report said.

It said that representatives of trade unions and civil society organisations from Bangladesh reported high production targets, low wages and extreme difficulty in forming unions in unregistered facilities.


Workers in these unregistered production units earn significantly less than in the factory and do not have social security benefits, the study said.
It also mentioned that informal employment practices heightened exposure to abuse since women workers in informal employment were at constant risk of losing their jobs.

“As a result, they face added pressure to reach production targets in order to avoid termination. They are also subjected to termination as a form of retaliation for speaking out against violence, largely foreclosing channels to relief,” it said.

Citing a study on informal garment workers employed in unregistered facilities in Bangladesh, the AFWA said that 66 per cent had experienced actual or threats of physical or sexual violence, and nearly 17 per cent had been subjected to actual physical or sexual violence.

It also said that 44 per cent of unregistered RMG factory workers faced restriction of movement or communication, 67 per cent endured abusive or coercive employment practices and 91 per cent reported deceptive, unfair or unsafe working environments.

Regarding the study, BGMEA president Faruque Hassan said the export-oriented RMG factories were running their business with due formalities and buyers were monitoring them from time to time.

He raised questions over the methodology of the study and said that like some export-oriented factories, some organisations also hired unauthorised subcontractors to do surveys.

“I do not believe the study report as the findings remain far from the reality of Bangladesh’s export-oriented RMG sector,” the BGMEA president said.
Formal sectors, unlike informal sectors, are regulated by applicable national laws, including the right to a written contract.