Mustafizur Rahman, a respected associate at the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has advised garment factories in Bangladesh to slowly reopen after ensuring workers’ health and safety because a long-term closure would harm the economy.
He spoke at a virtual forum, organized by the CPD, entitled “Rana Plaza Tragedy’s 7th Anniversary: Workers and Employers Crisis during the Coronavirus Pandemic-Policy Interventions and Way Forward.”
Most garment factories kept their operations shut down after a countrywide lockdown on March 26 to curb the spread of coronavirus infection was imposed by government. The lockout was extended till May 5.
Bangladesh could lose its competitiveness on foreign markets as countries like China and Vietnam have reopened their manufacturing lines due to a lengthy production suspension.
On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building, which housed several garment factories, collapsed, killing more than 1,134 people, mostly employees, and injuring 2,500 others. A standard operating procedure is being prepared by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), so that the factories can restart production early. For the staff, the association plans to create three coronavirus testing units and 130 private clinics in Gazipur once the units are reopened.