Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES) is a joint project of the Governments of Bangladesh and Germany. It is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ),in partnership with the Bangladesh Government. Since 2010, PSES has been working in partnership with industry associations in the Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector for the improvement of the social and labour standards in enterprises under its Social Compliance Factory Improvement programme. In this regard, between 2015 and 2017, PSES in collaboration with the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), has piloted assessments in 10 factories to study the interrelation between social standards and labour productivity. A resulting case study is presented below.
Confidence Knitwear Ltd. started operations as an export oriented knit manufacturer in 2011. The factory is located in Sreepur, Gazipur with a workforce of more than 1,400, out of which around 43 per cent are female. The factory is a beneficiary of the Social Compliance Factory Improvement programme of BKMEA and PSES.
Initially, BKMEA conducted an assessment of the ‘social standards’ status of the factory and found that it was not providing annual leave or earned leave as per labour law. The child care room in the factory was also inactive and there was no inducting system in the production floor to exhaust the dust, fume and temperature. As a result, workers were feeling stressed and tired. Moreover, female workers were concerned about the well-being of their children.
It was affecting their mental and physical health. Workers could not give their full concentration. Moreover, this resulted in a low satisfaction level among workers, which was evident in the high absenteeism rate of 5 per cent and migration rate of 5 per cent. All these factors were negatively affecting the factory’s productivity. Due to high stress and tiredness, the production rate was slowing down and quality of products was more defective.
Actions Implemented by the Factory
Following the advice of the BKMEA compliance team, Confidence Knitwear Ltd. started providing earned leave to the workers in order to improve social and labour standards. They also equipped a functional child care room for working mothers. Moreover, the factory has taken measures to install an inducting system to exhaust dust, fume and temperature to make the workplace more hygienic and comfortable for the workers.
- Workers can enjoy more relaxation and rest after getting earned leave.
- Working mothers are now stress free and it also gives a good impression to other female workers.
- A hygienic and comfortable workplace reduces stress and illness. These improvements in relation to social standards are motivating workers to concentrate more on their work.
- Absenteeism has decreased by 1 per cent and migration rate also by 1 per cent.
- Overall, these improvements in social and labour standards have resulted in increased productivity in the factory by two point four two per cent – i.e. from 10.76 minutes per shirt to 10.50 minutes per shirt.
Source of information: Baseline and end-line assessments done by the compliance and productivity cells of BKMEA.