Shadhinata Parishad convener Md Zahangir Alam on Sunday said they would contest independently the upcoming election to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The biennial election to the apex trade body will be held on 4 April for the term 2021-23.
"We are preparing to contest the election independently this year. Last year, the election was unfair as nomination papers were taken away while we failed to put our representatives in poll centres," Zahangir told a press conference in a Dhaka city hotel Sunday.
He said their panel is trying to nominate members in all 35 director posts of the association – 26 from Dhaka and nine from Chattogram – to vie for the election.
The businessman said they want only a free and fair election since they are a business platform, not a political one.
Unveiling a six-point election manifesto at the press conference, Zahangir said it hardly matters whether their panel wins victory or loses in the election, but they only seek to ensure a fair poll.
The garment sector is now in a vulnerable situation due to the raging pandemic and other unhealthy competitions, added the business leader.
"Now buyers are exploiting us through offering low prices of our products, but we are not doing so to our workers," he claimed.
Zahangir portrayed their business situation, saying that once there were around 7,000 garment factories in Dhaka and Chattogram, but the number has come down to 2,000.
"We thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing us with a stimulus package of Tk5,000 crore during Covid-19, but now banks have started taking interest of the loans from January which is very concerning," he said.
"So, we urge the government to extend moratorium time by another six months and repayment time by at least five years for the stimulus package."
Once elected, Shadhinata Parishad will make unique security criteria for small and medium factories to flourish in the garment sector.
The BGMEA contestant added that they would introduce an industry-friendly labour policy reforming obsolete articles and make a Unified Code of Practice for every buyer.
Besides, RMG wings will be opened in Bangladeshi missions abroad to explore new markets and there will also be product branding and view exchange with buyers.
He stressed the need for the government policy support and strong leadership to help the garment sector flourish.
Sammilita Parishad and Forum, a panel of BGMEA's registered members, will contend for the elections as well.
According to the election schedule, the last date of nomination paper submission by the candidates is 25 February while the last date of withdrawal of candidature is March 4.