Shipbuilding workers in Bangladesh leaving jobs

Dhaka, Mar 18 ( — Over 3,500 permanent workers and employees left their jobs at the export-oriented shipbuilding industry during the last one year as many of the top builders were delaying salary payments due to ‘lack of adequate funds’, reports the Financial Express.

Shipbuilding in Bangladesh

Meanwhile, the builders continue their local production by recruiting temporary workers in place of expensive permanent workers, sources said.

The export-oriented shipbuilding industry has not received a single order since January 2012 and many buyers have suspended their earlier-placed orders during the period prompting a serious fund crisis.

Top builders Ananda Shipyard and Slipways Ltd (ASSL) and Western Marine had over 2,000 permanent workers on their staff each, but sources said many of the workers had left those companies.

Khan Brothers, Desh Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd., TK Shipbuilding, Meghna Shipbuilding are the other major companies from where many workers and engineers have left their jobs.

Over 1,500 workers and engineers left Ananda Shipyard alone as the company was facing serious fund shortage as its Germen buyer Komrowski Maritime GmbH had refused to receive four readied ships over 5,000 dwt each.

The company has currently no foreign orders, for which it became irregular in paying salary and wages to its staff, sources said.

When asked, Afroza Bari, managing director of the company, told that Ananda usually paid international standard salaries to its employees, but as it did not have any export orders, it had to cut expenditure.

She said the company was currently building six dockyards by recruiting temporary workers.

When asked, a top manager of the Western Marine Shipyard said their company had not terminated any employees, but many had left their jobs on their own.

He also admitted that without having any international orders, the company could not afford regular workers on international payment.

Shipbuilding yards in Bangladesh have started exporting small and medium-sized ships to the European market since 2008.

Bangladeshi yards have manufactured and exported ferries, cargo vessels, and ocean-going multi-purpose ships worth more than $500m (£320m) since that year. The vessels were built for countries including Denmark, Germany and Finland.

The industry had aimed at winning orders worth more than $2.0 billion in the next five years. If that happened, it was expected to create thousands of jobs.

Bangladesh has more than 100 shipbuilding yards, with most of them catering to the domestic market.

Experts say nearly 70 per cent of the country’s cargo and 90 per cent of the total oil products are transported by small ships, cargo vessels and tugs through its coastal and inland waterways.

In global context, the small and medium-sized ship market is worth around $200 billion. If Bangladesh can get 1.0 per cent of this market, then the earning amounts to $2.0 billion.

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