Bangladesh garment workers return to
work amid lockdown
Thousands of textile workers have returned
to work in factories in Bangladesh amid a nationwide coronavirus
lockdown, raising fears of an increase in the spread of the
Factories in the capital Dhaka and the
port city of Chittagong reopened after being permitted to resume
work. The country's garment factories had closed in late March
but under pressure from retailers to fulfill outstanding export
orders, many resumed their operations, despite a nationwide
lockdown in place until May 5.
More than four million people work in
thousands of garment factories across Bangladesh, which last
year shipped apparel worth $35bn to some of the world's leading
retailers, such as H&M, Inditex, and Walmart.
"We have to accept coronavirus as part of
life. If we don't open factories, there will be an economic
crisis," said Mohammad Hatem, the vice president of Bangladesh
Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Last month, the government announced a
$588m package for the crucial export-oriented sector to pay its
workers, but garment manufacturers say funds were not enough to
mitigate the crisis.
Recently, hundreds of textile workers took
to the streets of Dhaka, demanding wage, flouting social
distancing norms amid the nationwide lockdown. Garment workers
have held smaller protests in recent weeks to demand wages lost
during the crisis.
For about a week, there have been protests
all across the country, workers demanding their back wages, some
of the workers haven't been paid for two months and many are on
the brink of starvation.
A nationwide lockdown is in place until
May 5, but protesters said they would continue to violate the
ban on movement if their demands were not met. In recent weeks,
Bangladesh has sent troops out into the streets to help enforce
a shutdown on travel and restrictions on religious gatherings