It is atrocious that 40 percent of the garment factories should have erred in paying their workers, some for as many as three months. And most of these do not belong to any of the two major garment or knitwear manufacturers' associations like the BGMEA or BKMEA. A few of them have left their workers high and dry before Eid by literally fleeing after locking up their factory gate without paying the workers their salaries and bonus.
While it is good to see that the factories under the two bodies have complied with their association's advice, with a few exceptions, those who are not members have taken advantage of, and exploited, the situation by erring on their workers' payment. It is high time the government brought all the garment producers under a modicum of informal control.
One of the reasons small factories prefer not to be a member of a major trade organisation is to avoid oversight and compliance like paying workers timely and conforming to all safety requirements. And that is what the government must address. But even if they choose not to be members of either of the two organisations in future, they cannot feel themselves to be outside all accountability, which appears to be the case now.
Apart from workers' pay, without accountability, they are likely to be a menace to the goodwill of this sector, because most of the small garment factories cut corners insofar as standard, safety and security are considered in their production process to save cost, affecting the quality of the final product. The sooner they come within the ambit of trade bodies, compliance by these factories in all aspects, from quality of product to safety and security of workers, would be ensured.