The government has allowed all industries to continue operation during the lockdown starting today (Wednesday) to keep the economy afloat.
But the factories will have to strictly comply with health safety protocols to prevent infections during the seven-day complete lockdown.
The labour ministry has formed 23 monitoring teams to oversee whether health safety rules are maintained in industries. The industrial police and local administration will assist the monitoring teams.
According to an instruction from the ministry, the factory authorities will have to arrange transportation services to pick up and drop off their workers during the lockdown.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the two associations of garment owners, have warned that the factories that will not abide by health safety rules will be shut down.
Speaking as the chief guest at a virtual meeting of the crisis management committee on the labour situation, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian on Monday said a total of 23 Crisis Management Committees have been formed by the field level officials of the Department of Factory and Establishment Inspection and the Department of Labour and representatives from employers and workers to monitor the health safety compliance during the lockdown.
Labour and Employment Ministry Secretary KM Abdus Salam said, "If the health rules are not followed, actions will be taken against the factories concerned in accordance with the labour law.
Initially, the government planned to shut down the factories in an all-out lockdown. However, the government decided to keep the factories open in response to the demands of the ready-made garment industry owners.
Last year, the government drafted a health safety guideline in association with the International Labor Organization for factories in line with WHO guidelines.
Besides, BGMEA and BKMEA have prepared a separate protocol. Those have clear directions on what to do – starting from the factory to returning home.
During the first wave of Covid-19 in the country, the factories resumed operations as per the guideline after the one-month shutdown. At that time, supervision was very strong, which is why Covid infections were very low among apparel workers.
Shahidullah Azim, newly-elected vice-president of the BGMEA, said, "The BGMEA member factories should comply with health safety rules. We have formed 10 monitoring teams, headed by a director in each team in every region, to oversee that. If any factory shows irresponsibility in this regard, that factory will have to highly compensate for that," he added.
On the other hand, BKMEA vice president Fazlee Shamim Ehsan said, "We have formed six teams to monitor compliance of health safety rules in factories. They will start monitoring on Thursday, after the Pahela Baishakh holiday."
"If anyone in a factory does not follow health safety rules, that factory will pay for it. We have also called a special board meeting on 17 April in this regard," he added.