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The Secret of Solving the Migration Problem-Recruiting Persons with Disabilities in the RMG Industry

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PSES is a joint project of the governments of Bangladesh and Germany, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in partnership with the Bangladesh Government. The project is supporting Bangladesh’s garment, textile and leather sectors to increase compliance with national labour and environment laws and international standards to fulfill the commitment towards an inclusive workforce. GIZ observed the secret of solving the migration problem at Vintage Denim. Vintage Denim Ltd. is a 100 per cent export oriented woven bottom factory in Bangladesh with a total of 1900 workers.

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The Challenge

A while ago, Vintage Denim Ltd. had a problem. The migration rate of workers was high, thus having negative impacts on production and income. But Nahil Ahmed, Human Resource and Compliance Manager,  Vintage Denim Ltd., had an idea. He suggested to Imran Islam Chouwdhury, Managing Director, Vintage Denim Ltd., to recruit persons with disabilities in the factory. Ahmed knew from his previous job experience that the migration rate is incredibly low among persons with disabilities. Choudhury agreed, but Vintage Denim deeply felt the necessity of professional support to ensure scaling up the process.

The Initiative

Vintage Denim came to know about the Inclusive Job Centre (IJC). IJC not only supports persons with disabilities to find suitable trainings and jobs in the Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector, but also supports factories to recruit persons with disabilities and to provide reasonable workplace adjustments. IJC was established under the roof of Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) together with Centre for Disabilities in Development (CDD), supported by Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry (PSES). Both CRP and CDD are working with PSES to mainstream persons with disabilities in the RMG workforce.

To recruit skilled persons with disabilities, Vintage Denim undertook several measurements. They constructed barrier-free access in the factory premises through CDD and arranged reasonable accommodation near the workplace. Moreover, they also revised their human resource policy and raised awareness of the qualities of persons with disabilities within the factory and among the management. Once the factory was prepared for recruiting persons with disabilities, Vintage Denim got in contact with IJC. With the support of the professional team of IJC, Vintage Denim employs around 100 persons with disabilities today.

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Photo: Mahbub Ali is performing a job in the time section of Vintage Denim Ltd. after receiving support from the Inclusive Job Centre.

The Succes

In the beginning, employees of Vintage Denim did not like the idea of having a person with disability as a colleague. This viewpoint has changed after experiencing their remarkable qualities. These days the employees are welcoming persons with disabilities and working side by side. The management even noticed that unit heads are placing demand to include persons with disabilities in their units. The factory is recruiting more persons with disabilities since the overall performance of the factory has improved.
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Way Forward

Vintage Denim undertook a survey on the performance of their employees with disabilities with remarkable findings. “We found out that 50 per cent of our employees with disabilities are performing equally to the employees without disabilities, 20 per cent are performing better, and 30 per cent are performing less ”, said Ahmed. They also measured a lower absenteeism and migration rate and learned that persons with disabilities take less and short leaves.

Vintage Denim strongly believes that if they recruit more persons with disabilities, the overall performance of the factory will improve and the migration rate will continue to decline. Thus, they decided to increase the number of persons with disabilities in their workforce. They will provide support in getting assistive devices with consultation of CRP professionals, recruit persons with disabilities for mid-level positions and change the infrastructure in a sustainable manner to create a barrier free and inclusive environment forever. For implementation, they plan to take advice from CDD and CRP. Vintage Denim wants to be a model factory in Bangladesh for an inclusive working environment. The knowledge and techniques about mainstreaming inclusion acquired in Vintage Denim will be transferred to the new factory named Vintage Apparel.

For more information- Farah Rahman, Junior Advisor-Communication, PSES,
E: farah.rahman@giz.de

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