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Workers complain physical contact rules ignored as 127 Ctg factories reopen

27 April 2020 bdnews24.com

Tens of thousands of workers rejoined work in 127 factories of three Export Processing Zones in Chattogram amid allegations that the authorities have ignored physical contact rules amid the coronavirus lockdown.
The workers say they were only undergoing temperature check and washing hands at the entrances but no physical distancing measures have been taken inside the factories.
The authorities have denied the allegations after reopening the factories at Chattogram, Karnaphuli  and Youngone's Korean EPZ on a limited scale on Sunday.
Speaking to bdnews24.com, the district's Civil Surgeon Sheikh Fazle Rabbi warned that the risk of infection will rise if the factories do not follow the directives to protect the workers from the virus.
The authorities of the three EPZs said they resumed operations in the factories to deliver the ordered goods.
Besides readymade garments, the factories produce footwear, tents, fabrics and electronic devices.
Chattogram Export Processing Zone has around 200,000 workers in 158 plants while the number of plants at Karnaphuli EPZ is 41 with around 76,000 workers.
Chattogram EPZ General Manager Khaurshid Alam said the EPZ allowed 75 factories to reopen and they were following the health safety guidelines. Around 45,000 workers rejoined the factories, he said.
At Karnaphuli EPZ, General Manager Moshiuddin Bin Mezbah said 30 factories resumed production on a limited scale.
Mushfiqur Rahman, assistant general manager at the Korean EPZ, said all their 22 factories resumed operations. Around 40 percent of the 25,000 workers returned, he said.
But the workers said the factory authorities called them and more than 60 percent returned to work though the Bangladesh EPZ Authority and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association asked not to bring in more than 25 percent of the workers.
BEPZA and BGMEA also directed the factories to call the workers only from nearby areas but many returned from different other districts to save their jobs saying the authorities had threatened to fire them.
The workers said they joined work also to avoid being laid off. As many as 69 factories applied for layoffs earlier in the month.
An official of a factory said the workers had been told to maintain social distancing but they could not do it while travelling.
As it was raining in the morning, some had to share umbrellas, he said.
He also said the authorities arranged masks and places for hand-washing, but took no measure for physical distancing.
Chattogram EPZ's Khurshid said the allegation was not entirely correct.
"We are inspecting the factories. Most of them are following the rules. We are ordering the factories to resolve the problems we've seen," he said.

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