Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- More than a half of about 6,300 factories in the apparel sector are risky because of non-compliance being outside the purview of international buyers that do not import directly from them, according to a study.

The Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies on Sunday shared its primary findings of the report, Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations in the Export Oriented Readymade Garments Industries in Bangladesh, with the labour ministry and leaders of the garment and knitwear exporters’ associations, the New Age, a local newspaper, reported.

The BIDS says that owners of 2,376 factories out of 4,400 under the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and of 1,124 factories out of 1,904 under the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Associations run their business as sub-contractors which has ‘put the factory compliance issues at a significant risk.’

The BIDS derived the findings from a survey carried out through the exporters’ associations on all enterprises enlisted with the associations.

It has collected information from factory management on gender-wise employment size, product type, export volume and destination, major buyers, particulars of factories used for sub-contracting, compliance audit and certification by buyers and the implementation status of the Unified Code of Conduct 2006.

The BIDS has also conducted a field survey and held focus group discussions with a small group of managers and workers in this regard.

The primary report has also identified that the sub-contracting factories are mostly smaller in size employing less than 500 people where the rate of non-compliance is higher.

The report says that 59.1 per cent of the factories registered with the BKMEA are small and such a figure for the BGMEA is 28 per cent.

About 67 per cent of the factories under the BGMEA claimed that they were fully compliant with the Unified Code of Conduct while the figure is 37.7 per cent for factories under the BKMEA.

The factories both under the BGMEA and the BKMEA now employ about 4.41 million workers, producing apparel products for international markets to become the top export-earning sector.

The labour ministry employed BIDS to conduct the survey to identify its focus on ensuring workplace safety in the apparel sector.

The study sampled 2,024 factories under the BGMEA but only 499 of them responded. The figures are 257 out of 780 under the BKMEA.

BBN/SSR/AD-30Sept13-10:24 am (BST)