Hartal (Strike) - Is it Good for RMG Sector in Bangladesh?

HARTAL -Is it Good for RMG Sector?

Author: Md. Mehedi Hasan
B.Sc In Textile Engineering (3rd Year)
Shahid Abdur Rab Serniabat Textile Engineering College, Barisal.
Contact no: 01557224185
E-mail: sun7star742@yahoo.com

The economy of Bangladesh is largely dependent on agriculture. However, in recent years, the Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector has emerged as the biggest earner of foreign currency. The RMG sector has experienced an exponential growth since the 1980s. The sector contributes significantly to the GDP. It also provides employment to around 4.2 million Bangladeshis.

In present, many foreign investors are coming to Bangladesh to take advantage of the low labor cost. Even Zippers, buttons, labels, hooks, hangers, elastic bands, thread, backboards, butterfly pins, clips, collar stays, collarbones and cartons are the major garment accessories produced in Bangladesh.

But Now-a-days the country is passing through a very uncertain period both politically and economically. In politics, the dreaded hartal (The act of closing shops or suspending work, esp in political protest) is all set again to turn our lives upside down and bring miseries and misfortunes.

Bangladesh, a resource poor country, depends on its economic well being to a large extent on how well it does in its export business as well as in attracting foreign direct investment to the country. Political disturbances such as hartal and conflicts among the political parties are certain to lead to a slowdown of economic production.

After the British conceded independence to India on 15 August 1947, hartals in free India were often observed mostly as a mark of public sorrow to mourn the demise of public men and great leaders. It is also observed to mourn the deaths as a consequence of calamities that leave many people dead and injured. Hartals are still common in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, and in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, where it is often used to refer specifically to the 1953 Hartal of Ceylon. In Malaysia, the word was used to refer to various general strikes in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, such as the All-Malaya Hartal of 1947 and the Penang Hartal of 1967.

In Bangladesh; In case of the RMG business that contributes 60% of the exports, slowdown could lead to cancellation of orders from clients in the USA and Europe and eventually to a breakdown of the industry.

The BATEXPO, 2012, that just concluded in Dhaka brought more depressing news for the RMG sector. The response of foreign buyers to the fair has been poor. Sources close to the organizers of the Fair have revealed that "20% of listed foreign buyers did not attend the exposition because of deteriorating political conditions."

For the ongoing countrywide hartal, BGMEA and BKMEA said that, many people would simply turn jobless overnight if the existence of the country's readymade garment sector is endangered for political instability. Economy will be hit hard by frequent hartals and it will not be able to overcome the losses as over four million people directly and 40 million indirectly involved in the RMG sector.

For this reason, Hartal is always harmful to our RMG sector. So there should be peaceful political programmes instead of blockade or hartal.

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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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