Bangladeshi authorities have allowed the garment manufacturing sector – the world’s second largest, employing four million people – to stay open after Bangladesh imposed a lockdown on Wednesday following a surge in coronavirus cases.
The industry is supposed to provide transport for the estimated one in five workers who cannot walk to their factories and adhere to strict hygiene rules, including providing masks and soap and enforcing distancing.
But workers from 10 factories who spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation this week said their employers had not provided transport.
“There were no arrangements for buses and we didn’t see any major improvement in the hygiene protocols. It’s the same as it was before lockdown,” said Kalpona Akter, founder of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity union.
A labour ministry official said the government was assessing the situation.
“Most workers live near factories. Some live far away and we will try to bring them (to work),” said Faruque Hassan, head of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“I have also asked factories to compromise and not run at full capacity.”