A staggering 84% of readymade garment workers were concerned over the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, and only 47% said their factories took additional steps beyond mask-wearing and social distancing to prevent infections, reveals a survey conducted on 6 August.
Among those 47% respondents, 83% thought that the additional measures were adequate, according to the study conducted jointly by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) and Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) – under the project "Garment Worker Diaries."
The data used for analysis came from interviews conducted over the phone, from a pool of 1,278 workers. Of them, just over three-quarters are women, who are roughly representative of workers in the sector as a whole, said a press release on Tuesday.
As part of their project, the two organisations have been collecting monthly data since April 2020 of RMG workers employed in factories across the five main industrial areas in Bangladesh – Chittagong, Dhaka City, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Savar.
Their latest survey focused on the effects of the lockdown on garment workers, their feelings about the current state of their workplace safety, and the prospect of more or less pay in their upcoming paychecks.
During the first week of August, garment workers were recalled to work amid the unexpected easing of the national lockdown. Initially, the number of workers present was slightly lower than they usually are.
Responding to the phone interview on 6 August, 83% of the workers said they had gone to work the previous week. A slightly smaller share of women worked than men, 81% compared to 89%, respectively.
Among the 83% of respondents who had worked in the survey week, only 44% said they were comfortable going to work during the then national lockdown period. Among those same working respondents, unfortunately, only 45% were given a mask to wear while working.
On a more positive note, 77% of those working respondents said they had been able to socially distance themselves while working in the factory.
The data indicate that workers do not feel secure about their workplace environment, and factory owners had not done enough to make them feel less concerned, said the press release, urging the authorities concerned to take adequate steps for ensuring the safety of their workers, and as well address the concerns of their employees.