The government will soon start inspecting garment factories that are not registered with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) to see whether they follow the compliance issues.
"We (government) will soon start inspection of about 450 factories to see whether they are following compliance issues or not," State Minister for Labour and Employment Munnojan Sufian told a meeting with the leaders of apparel sector at the conference room of the ministry concerned Monday.
The state minister, however, warned all concerned of taking punitive measures if any factory owner fails to comply with the required safety standard.
"If any factories fail to comply with the compliance issue, then the government will cancel their licences," she said adding "The garment owners, if found responsible for the fire incidents, should be arrested".
The ministry convened the meeting following growing fire incidents in readymade garment (RMG) factories especially the latest blaze at Smart Garments at Mohammadpur in the capital recently, which claimed seven lives.
Senior government officials and representatives of BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) were present at the meeting.
The meeting unanimously decided that from now on the garment units should not be allowed to use collapsible gates which were widely blamed for the death of workers in the recent fire incidents since most of the factories used to lock their gates during working hours.
It also decided to provide cumulative financial compensation to the victims from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and the garment entrepreneurs' fund.
The readymade garments leaders assured the government that they will provide salaries to the workers of the factory for the month of January 2013. They also gave words to the government to provide them with jobs to other factories and give financial compensation to the family members of the victims.
"We (BKMEA) will give Tk 100,000 as compensation to each of the victims' families," President of BKMEA AKM Salim Osman said.
"We (BGMEA) will take decision on financial compensation to the victims after consultation with our members," First Vice-President of BGMEA Nasiruddin Chowhury said.
He said the garment factories that are registered with his organisation had been complying the with compliance issues.
They factory owners also promised to the government that they will monitor garment factories strictly whether they follow the compliance issue or not. They suggested the government to relocate garment factories from the densely populated areas in the capital to other appropriate places.
State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Jahangir Kabir Nanok termed the incident as heartrending.
He said the recurrence of fire incidents at garment units cannot be accepted and collective steps need to be taken to save the industry.
There should be collective efforts by the owners, workers and the government to save the industry as it is the highest foreign currency earning source of the country," he said.
He, however, strongly suggested the RMG leaders to follow the compliance issue properly.
Labour Secretary Mikhail Sipar and Chief Inspector of Factories Habibul Islam, among others, were present.