Readymade garment workers faced their highest workload in January this year (2022) since the coronavirus outbreak in the country in March 2020, according to the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (Sanem).
Workers spent 295 hours on average in factories during the 27 working days in January, which was higher than usual, meaning that the key export-oriented industry was making a strong recovery from the pandemic fallout.
Sanem made the observation based on its ongoing large-scale research project, "Garment Worker Diaries", which it has been running in collaboration with the US based non-profit organization, Microfinance Opportunities since April 2020, said a press release.
Around 1,300 garment workers from five major industrial areas – Chattogram, Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, and Savar – have been surveyed every week since April 2020 under the project.
Excluding the one-hour lunch break, RMG workers worked 268 hours in January, according to Sanem. Female workers worked 267 hours and males 270 hours, on an average.
In the 24 working days of February, workers spent 259 hours in the factory. It was 235 hours excluding the one-hour lunch break.
In both January and February, half of the surveyed workers worked more than the legally allowed 10 hours – 8 regular hours and 2 overtime hours, the study found.
For the work in December, each female worker got a salary of Tk12,000 in January, while male workers got Tk12,500 on average, it added.
Next month, female workers received the same but men got Tk500 more.
The Sanem study found that 54% of workers were paid through mobile financial services such as bKash, Nagad, and Rocket, and 46% were paid in cash.
Three-quarters of the survey respondents were women, which roughly represents the composition of the labour force in the RMG sector as a whole, the release reads.