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Labour Unrest Essay

The export-oriented apparel industry of Bangladesh, popularly known as readymade garment (RMG) or simply the garment industry occupies a unique position in economy of Bangladesh. It is the largest exporting industry, which experienced a phenomenal growth during the last three decades. By taking advantage of cheap labour and quota-based market in the USA and EU under the provision of Multi Fibber Arrangement (MFA) of GATT, it attained a high profile in terms of economic growth of the country. The industry started its modest journey in late 1970s and enjoyed a meteoric rise from 30 enterprises in 1980 increased to 4825 in 20081. Average growth rate of this sector was over 20% per over the last two decades.

This single sector alone earns about 80% of yearly foreign exchange of the country. Its contribution to GDP reaches 13% in fiscal year 2009-2010. Since independence, no single sector could accelerate the industrialization process in the country as the RMG sector could do. It has created employment opportunity for about 3.5 million people. Most of them are uneducated and unskilled. About 80% of them are women.

To a creditable extent, it has been able to relieve the country from the burden of unemployment and at the same time contribute to the empowerment of women. Thus this sector is playing a vital role in socioeconomic development of the country. The growth of RMG sector in Bangladesh is amazing one and it has been possible mainly because of hard work of labour-force. But this glory is being diminished day by day due to labour unrest in this sector. This study is designed to unearth the causes of labour unrest and search the areas where Public-Private Partnership can work to address the problem.

Literature of Review

As garment industry is a leading sector in Bangladesh economy and labour unrest is a burning issue at present, a good number of books, reports, articles and publications of different organizations are available. In course of conducting this thesis, a number of literatures in this regard have been reviewed.

Siddiqi (2004) in his book ‘The Readymade Garment Industry of Bangladesh’ discusses the importance of RMG industry in the national economy and notes, the RMG industry has become so important that the future of the economy of Bangladesh is greatly dependent on this single sector. Any slowdown in this sector will slow down the economic progress of Bangladesh. He analyses the strength and weakness of RMG industry of Bangladesh and suggests how to ensure its better future in the context of changing global apparel market.

Sultan (2010) says, from the total net profit, only 30 per cent is being spent on the workers whereas around 50 per cent is spent on workers’ wages in other countries. He further notes,’ in our country, people do not pay heed to any movement unless you come out to the roads. The same happened in the case of the garment workers. They were facing severe problems and unless they came out on to the roads, no one would have taken their problems seriously.

Fahmida and Moazzem (2007) suggest a number of factors need to be considered while fixing the minimum wage of industrial workers. These are : i) workers’ minimum requirement for decent living; ii) enterprise’s capacity to adjust with the additional cost originating from the rise in wage; iii) consideration of the wage structure of similar types of industrial sectors; and iv) adjustment of the wage with country’s economic development.

Objectives of the study

I) To find out the causes of labour unrest in RMG sector of Bangladesh

II) To identify areas where public and private sector work together to solve the problem.


A research needs methodology which reveals how the researcher is going to achieve his/her objectives of the stipulated study. Aminuzzaman in “Introduction to Social Research” states, as a systematic study, research methodology deals primarily with the approaches and techniques as how to undertake a research without being biased and prejudiced. It offers bunch of tactical approaches and logical skills to observe, record, interpret and infer on matters under study. According to Kithara (2004, p. 8), research methodology is a way to solve the research problem systematically and scientifically. The objectives of the study arête explore the causes of labour unrest in the RMG sector of Bangladesh and identify areas where PPP can help address the problem. Three research methods- content analysis, Questionnaire and interview are used in this study. Content analysis is used for the descriptive part of the study. Interview and questionnaire methods have been used for collecting data forth study. Use of three methods is supposed to reduce biasness and work as a reliable tool for research.

Research design

Research design provides a framework to the researcher to navigate the journey in the field and finally execute the study. The nature of the problem to be studied and research questions to be answered which are the guiding pillars to decide what approach and strategy would be employed to pursue a research. According to Creswell (2003) research design fall into three categories: a. Quantitative b. Qualitative and c. Mixed method. The present study utilizes admixed method approach. The qualitative approach is used as a predominant method because the research is conducted in its natural setting where the quantitative method will be used to analyze the data.

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