Tasked with resolving problems in the apparel sector, seven regional crisis management committees were formed in 2010. Ever since, these committees exist mainly on paper.
The designated committee for Ashulia zone has yet to sit even one after the Tazreen Fashions tragedy, the deadliest in the country's garment sector, officials said.
The silence of these committees has raised doubt about what the new taskforce that Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has announced to form. This taskforce, when formed, will ensure that garment owners upgrade fire safety measures within a deadline.
The seven regional committees were assigned not only to deal with the crisis in Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj. They were also to discuss every month the overall situation of the RMG sector, country's main foreign currency earner.
Formed in June 2010, local lawmakers the respective areas are chiefs of the committees.
The committee for Ashulia zone did not sit in a single meeting in the last two and a half years, even after the Ashulia fire, said Mikail Shipar, labour and employment ministry secretary.
“But we've called a meeting of the central committee on crisis management this week,” he told The Daily Star.
Murad Jong, the MP for Savar-Ashulia constituency, paid no attention on industrial matters, said reliable sources in the ministry.
The Daily Star called the minister over his phone yesterday but he did not pick up. He also did not respond to the text message, requesting his comment on the matter.
The central committee, which is going to meet this week, has representatives drawn from various ministries and departments of the government and police administration. Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju heads this committee.
Contacted, BGMEA President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said local lawmakers are the chiefs of the regional committees and they were duty-bound to regularly sit and discuss problems in the garment sector.
“It's not our duty to see who holds meeting or not," he added.
A deputy director of the labour department said the regional committees held a few meetings but could not say how many or what was discussed in those.
Failure to contain workers' unrest is costing the RMG sector millions of dollars every year. In the past few years, the sector that employs about 35 lakh workers has seen recurring violence over various demands, halting production, in some cases for days.
BGMEA records show, 214 fire incidents killed 386 garment workers, including the 111 victims of the November 24 blaze, since 1990. On the other hand, 108 incidents of labour unrest took place till October this year alone. The number was 151 last year and 161 the previous year.
Amirul Haque Amin, president of National Garment Workers Federation, said he was present in a meeting of the Mirpur regional committee in August in the wake of some unrest in the area.
“Many problems could have been resolved if these meetings were held regularly," he added.