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Bangladeshi Government Announces Construction of Dormitory for Female RMG Workers

Mr. Tariq-Ul-Islam of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWCA) announced last week that the Bangladeshi government would soon begin the construction of a dormitory to house female garment sector workers in the industrial district of Ashulia, just outside of the Bangladeshi capitol of Dhaka.

In addition to this proposed dormitory, Mr. Tariq-Ul-Islam directed Bangladesh’s two major garment sector consortiums–the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA)–to build corresponding housing blocks in the country’s garment manufacturing district.

During the announcement, Mr. Tariq-Ul-Islam also laid out government plans for the construction of further housing for garment workers and a “Garment Palli” that would provide workers with access to healthcare and educational resources. For the completion of these projects, the Bangladeshi government is soliciting the World Bank for funds totaling 300 million taka (USD3.6 million), according to a source close to the exchange.

The initial dormitory is expected to reach a height of 10 stories and cost 250 million taka (USD3 million) to construct. A lot has already been purchased for the dormitory and the project has a projected completion date of 2015.

Though Bangladeshi officials have made no connection between the two events, this announcement comes close on the heels of several weeks of rioting by garment workers in the industrial district of Ashulia. Violence reached such a pitch last week that some 300 garment factories were forced to halt operations for a period of four days.

Foremost among the rioting workers’ demands were food and housing subsidies, which they claimed were necessary to combat Bangladesh’s rapidly expanding cost of living.

As of this writing, production at Ashulia’s factories continues apace.