Survey: Most RMG workers happy with workplace safety

Just two-thirds of the surveyed workers said joining labour unions might ensure regular and on-time wages

Contrary to common perception, a recent survey has found that a significant majority of garment factory workers are happy with their workplace safety, working hours and wage hikes.

According to the survey conducted by Democracy International (DI) and funded by USAID and UKAID, more than 80% of the respondents said the working conditions at their factories were safe. Over 60% said they had been receiving periodic pay raise and their working hours were fair.

The respondents expressed that meagre arrangements for vacation, casual, sick and maternity leaves; job insecurity and low wages were some of the major problems that they had been facing.

Although the government has recently claimed that the RMG workers now are far more unionised than ever before, the study has found that nearly 90% of the participant workers were not members of any labour body.

Just two-thirds of the surveyed workers said joining labour unions might ensure regular and on-time wages.

In a report, the DI said the survey was conducted for having “an in-depth understanding of labour issues, formation of labour union and activities, policy aspiration and political participation of garment workers in greater Dhaka and Chittagong areas.”

The survey comprised a total of 1,508 face-to-face random sample interviews from 150 randomly selected factories. The fieldwork was done between March 28 and April 6, 2014 with a maximum margin of error of +/-2.53%.

The average monthly take-home wage of the RMG workers is Tk7,341, which is roughly equal to $94.70; the maximum is Tk15,000 and minimum Tk3,000. The average working hour is 10.09 per day, ranging from a highest of 14 hours to a minimum of eight.

Although a majority of the respondents said they felt safe at work, one-third said they were harassed by their supervisors, one-fourth said they had been sexually harassed, 28% said there was corruption in their factories.

Interestingly, 87% of the respondents said they were not members of any labour union and 56% did not have any knowledge about unions at all.

The general perception was that trade unions could benefit workers; 68% respondents said unions could do this by discussing workers’ demands with managements or authorities and settling problems. Some 46% said unions could improve their standard of living and 29% said unions could work to ensure safe working environments.

There were also some risks associated with forming labour unions. Nearly half of the respondents said forming unions raised chances of factionalism and cliques among workers. Nearly a fourth said there was no risk at all.

More than three-fourths of the respondents thought that a labour union leader should be someone from among the workers. A similar percentage said union leaders should be elected by union members.

A remarkable majority of 92% interviewees said labour unions should not have any affiliation with political parties.

When asked whether Bangladesh should get GSP facilities soon, 51.3% workers were in favour of it. f

Source: Dhaka Tribune


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