Malnutrition accounts for RMG workers’ 20pc productivity loss

Citing a survey of International Labour Office (ILO) 2014, speakers at a workshop said that about 20 percent productivity of readymade garment (RMG) workers is reduced due to malnutrition among them. They made the remark while addressing a training workshop titled ‘Basic Nutrition and Food Supply System in RMG Sector’ at a hotel in the capital on Sunday.

Ministry of Labour and Employment and Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) supported by Switzerland-based Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) jointly organized the event. Citing another survey of ICDDR,B, the speakers said 43 percent female RMG workers have been suffering from malnutrition for a long time.

According to Export Promotion Bureau, the RMG sector plays a pivotal role in the economy of Bangladesh accounting for 84.21 percent of the country’s exports. Besides, a survey of BGMEA (2018-19 fiscal year) said the RMG sector contributed 11.7 percent to the GDP.

The speakers said around 35 lakh workers are engaged in the sector and they have limited knowledge on health, nutrition and the effect of malnutrition. But sound health of workers is a precondition for uninterrupted production, they added. If the workers remain sick due to malnutrition, they cannot become quality workforce, the speakers said, adding proper nutrition among them will increase their competency, resulting in increased production.

Attending the event as the chief guest, Labour Ministry secretary KM Ali Azam highlighted the importance of nutrition, saying that both owners and workers should be sensitized on the issue. He asked the inspectors to utilize their knowledge, received at the training, to ensure good health of the workers. 

Chaired by inspector general of DIFE Shib Nath Roy, the inaugural session was addressed by GAIN country director Dr Rudaba Khondker, NNS of Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN) line director Dr SM Mustafizur Rahman, joint inspector general of DIFE Dr Md Mustafizur Rahman and general secretary of Bangladesh Employers’ Federation Farooq Ahmed. A total of 30 inspectors of DIFE are attending the two-day training.