Bangladesh’s readymade garments (RMG) sector still has a long way to go in ensuring workers’ rights as 97.5 per cent of the factories don’t have trade unions and workers’ organisations continue to remain either weak or non-functional in factories, according to a comprehensive survey of the sector conducted by Dhaka-based think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). The survey report was presented at a recent seminar in Dhaka.

The key barriers are the factory owners’ negative attitude towards unionism, lack of trust between factory owners and workers, and the workers’ lack of knowledge about their rights, rights groups and trade union leaders said at the conference.

Led by research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem, the CPD survey collected data from 3,856 factories having 3.6 mn workers. Demanding institunalisation of aid for the injured workers, Moazzem said those injured in the Rana Plaza tragedy have to spend on an average around Tk 40,000 every year for their treatment but the amount that they receive from the Rana Plaza Injured Workers’ Fund is very insignificant. Though over 1,000 factories had formed safety committees after the Rana Plaza incident, a large percentage of these committees were not functional, the survey discovered.