Only 45 per cent of apparel workers were given masks to wear during their work period in the factories while 77 per cent were able to maintain social distancing, according to a survey.
As many as 47 per cent workers opined that their factory had taken additional steps to prevent Covid-19 transmission. 87 per cent of female workers thought that the measures were sufficient compared to 71 per cent of men, finds the study.
South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM) and Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) jointly conducted the survey titled “Garment Worker Diaries” over phone on August 6, 2021 with a pool of 1,278 workers to collect data on working conditions, income, expenditure, food security, wage digitisation and health of garment workers of the country.
The garment workers were employed in factories across the five main industrial areas of Chattogram, Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Savar.
Some 83 per cent of the respondents replied that they had gone to work in the previous week.
A slightly smaller share of women had job than that of their male counterparts -- 81 per cent compared to 89 per cent respectively.
Among those 83 per cent respondents who had worked in the survey week, only 44 per cent said they were comfortable going to work during the lockdown.
Asked how much money they expected to receive in their next pay-check, 63 per cent of respondents said they would be paid about the same while 19 per cent said they weren’t sure about it and 16 per cent reported they would expect to earn less than normal and around 75 per cent thought that the lower pay would be due to lockdown.
According to the survey data, some 1 per cent of workers expected to earn more than normal due to their working overtime.
When asked how they are planning to cope with less money, most common answer with 18 per cent identifying this option was to slash food expenses.
The data also indicates that workers don’t feel secure about their workplace environment and factory owners had not done enough to make them feel less concerned.
SANEM Executive Director Dr Selim Raihan suggested that the authorities concerned need to take adequate steps to ensure the safety of their workers and address the concerns of their employees.
He also recommended that factory owners, government officials, policymakers, and advocacy groups should come together to prioritise the safety and the wellbeing of workers to facilitate the recovery process of the RMG sector.