Free trade zone trade unions warned of dire consequences for apparel sector workers if the government continues deviating investor attention to other sectors.
Speaking at a recent forum on investment development and workers rights, the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU) said the sector is picking up fast after being stagnant during the past years.
A study on garment sector wage trends presented at the discussion revealed that, though the industry was stagnant from 2006- 2010, it boosted exports during the last few years.
However, the FTZGSEU stated that while exports had increased the number of factories in the free trade zones had reduced from 500 factories in 2005 to 314 factories this year.
Speaking at the discussion, Joint Secretary of FTZGSEU Anton Marcus stated the increase in productivity despite the closure of a few factories led to the increase in exports.
“Each worker today performs several operations, while years ago he or she was committed to only one,” he said.
“Workers today are expected to work overtime. Although they have leave they are unable to take them as they will not receive their bonuses.”
He further pointed out that while government sector employees have a basic salary of Rs.20,000 garment sector employees draw a meager Rs.9,500.
“With the rising cost of living, workers are forced to work over-time to ensure they receive bonuses to make ends meet,” Marcus added.