Employment, Workplace, Health & Vaccination Conditions of RMG Workers: Findings From a Rapid Survey

The ready-made garments (RMG) sector is the highest earner of foreign currency in Bangladesh. In 2020, 84% of the country’s export earnings came from the RMG sector. During the first year of COVID-19, the RMG sector faced many layoffs and salary cuts. A recent estimate by Mapped in Bangladesh (MIB) and Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) shows that between pre-Covid (December 2019) and Covid period (September 2020), over 50 per cent of RMG enterprises have fewer workers in September 2020 compared to pre-Covid period. Overall, workers who lost jobs during this period was about 14%. About 14% more workers lost jobs during Jan-Sept 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The workers were exposed to health risks as factories were opened during the government-induced lockdown without taking adequate safety measures. The sector received considerable financial aid from the government for the workers, although it is unclear how much of the aid eventually reached the workers. In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, the RMG factories are operating in full swing and health protocols have been compromised. The government has also started a priority-based vaccination for RMG workers in July 2020. This paper examines the RMG workers’ income and employment status, work environment, compliance with health and safety measures taken by authorities, and vaccination status from April to July of 2021. This survey was conducted over telephone with  the RMG workers located in Savar, Dhaka division, based on a previous database of a panel telephonic survey conducted by BIGD during March 2020- March 2021.

Authors: Aziz, Syeda Salina; Mahpara, Pragyna; Labib, Mahid
Type: Research Brief
Year: 2021