The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the livelihoods of at least 82% of ready-made garment (RMG) workers in Bangladesh, according to a survey released on Monday.
Only 18% of the survey respondents reported that the ongoing pandemic has had no impact on their livelihoods.
The survey conducted by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) and Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) also found that most of the respondents had migrated from their place of birth for work.
There is also a sizable minority that has migrated more than once. Around 1,269 workers who are employed in factories in Chattogram, Dhaka City, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Savar participated in the survey.
The survey found that job losses or salary cuts forced RMG workers to: spend their savings, borrow money or sell their assets to bear necessary expenses; disobey quarantine rules to earn a living; rely on extended family assistance; move to cheaper places, and miss work due to family responsibilities.
A number of workers were forced to move back to their hometowns after losing their jobs. Of them, some have found another job, while at least 3% are still looking for another job, according to the survey.
Over three-quarters of the working respondents were women, which is roughly representative of the gender distribution in the sector as a whole.
The survey asked its respondents about the workers' control over the earnings they send to their households. Some 58% among those who were able to respond said that it was some other family member while 42% said they themselves were the decision makers.
To assess the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on the overall working and living conditions of garment workers in Bangladesh, Sanem, in partnership with MFO, have been conducting a series of surveys, with new questions and among slightly changed number of respondents each week.
Some of the questions of this survey were supplied by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a blog report on the survey, published on the website Garment Worker Diaries, noted.
The latest survey explored the dynamics of the workers' earnings, including who controls how they are spent, and the impact of Covid-19 on their size and frequency, the blog on the survey findings said.
The survey found that 89% of the respondents have migrated at least once. Around 91% of women reported that they had migrated compared to 83% of men. Some 81% of migrants said they had migrated for a work-related purpose and 64% of those respondents who had migrated for a work-related purpose said they had migrated just once.