Human Resource Development in RMG

Human Resource Development – Workers think that job is a favour from their owners. Lack of nutritious food, sufficient rest, hygienic residence, etc. makes the workers socially, physically and mentally weak. Working extra time and seven days a week create a distance between them and their families, friends and relatives. They accept mismanagement and malpractice as management practices.

Many marginal workers depend on micro-credit firms. They take loan with high interest rate to meet their expenditure beyond their budget. Once they take loan, it throws them into a loan trap. Such inhuman conditions were common until the enactment of the Labour Act 2006 which spurred the movement for social compliance.

Workers always fight a losing battle. Even when the owners’ association unilaterally declare a three-day layoff, workers do not find any voice to protest rather they have to forget about any of their logical demands.

The RMG industry has turned out to be a temporary field of employment for the employees. It does not have any life-time plan for its workers. With a temporary plan for its workers, the industry’s sustainable development is not possible.

The owners are compelled to recruit the HR (Importance of Human Resource Planning in RMG) people to face the compliance audit as a partial fulfilment of buyers’ demand. As a result, a functional HR is hardly found in the industry. It is found that even the companies which have expanded their production units, both vertically and horizontally, and have achieved extraordinary export growth, lack management system. They are more focused on export and give less attention to develop their human resources. As a result, the companies have not developed a corporate system. Some of them, after three decades of operation, have to stay in the office very late in the night to sign the bills, vouchers even for a hundred taka or to exercise authority. Some of them are too dependent on their hired management and they themselves do not know how their factories are being managed. For the sustainable growth of the industry, it is a must to develop a sound management system. It is relatively easier to increase exports, both in quantity and value. But to develop a sound management system, an organisation needs time and nourishing a good culture. But changing culture is not possible overnight.

The big companies in the RMG sector generally suffer from the lack of modern concept of management. They should learn a lesson from the debacle of the jute industry. They should take a number of measures enumerated below:

In a garment factory operators are the lifeline both in number and in operation of the industry. A supervisor or line chief is the person who makes the bridge between the operators and the management.  They supervise the operators’ functions and are responsible for production targets. The supervisor is the 1st line management in a RMG manufacturing unit. They play a very crucial role and make the communication bridge between the workers and the upper management. Supervisors convey to the operators any decision from the factory management, mostly production related. Supervisor or line chief is the experienced operator who has the voice and controlling power.

The relationship between the management and the workers of a factory depends mostly on how supervisors behave with the operators. Normally an experienced male operator is promoted to next higher position as Junior Supervisor. Though the women are more in number in the industry, yet not many of them are found in supervisory or in mid or senior management positions.  This is an example of discrimination/ domination by male bosses – supervisor, production manager and factory manager, who have the supreme power in the factory. It’s a total failure of human resources department of the industry.

Since supervisor is an experienced operator, he believes in whatever he has experienced throughout his life. When a grade eight passed or even less qualified operator becomes a supervisor he can’t accept any changes either in operating process or in behavioural approach. Industry efficiency is highly dependent on those supervisors. When cost is the biggest concern, it will be a luxury to continue with traditional way of doing things. If a factory can attract technically educated people for the supervisory posts then it would be easier to compete with our competing countries with regard to efficiency. To create a congenial working environment and to ensure a long-term growth of the sector, the HRD must initiate change from supervisory level.

Voluminous discussions on minimum wage create a perception among the common people that paying the minimum is the only objective of the RMG sector. It is a failure of the apex bodies of the sector to bring it to public knowledge that it is the highest payer of wages in the private sector of the country. To reduce dependence on traditional production managers, some companies are trying to involve the Industrial and Production Engineers (I&PE) in their production departments. But in most cases, the relationship between the traditional managers and the modern engineers is not functional. As a result, the expected outcome is yet to come.

On the other hand, our RMG business is highly dependent on buying houses, a third-party beneficiary. No doubt, direct marketing and sourcing can add more value to the industry. At present, around 100,000 foreign nationals are working in this sector mainly in marketing and production departments. Ensuring a working environment and empowering HRD, the industry can look for local talents from all disciplines, as the sectors’ pay and perks for the deserving ones are more than any other sector. This way the industry can minimise dependence on foreign nationals.

The KPI (key performance indicators) have to be identified against each position. Each achievement will be expressed/transformed into numeric values. The organisation will follow transparent appraisal method instead of confidential appraisal system. One can evaluate his/her performance by himself/herself. To achieve better score he/she can make efforts. In this process, grievance, dissatisfaction and frustration will be minimised and a healthy competition will prevail among the members of an organisation.

If the supervisor is the 1st line management, then assistant production manager or floor in-charge is the in-line management. Department heads, production manager and factory manager are in mid-level management. Soon after any incident takes place in any factory, the owners and leaders of their associations put the blame on the mid-level management. But have the industry leaders or factory owners taken any noticeable initiative to improve their competence? The owners hold the HR and mid-level management responsible for any failure. They assign work load to a particular person or department but they will not delegate proper authority to them. Without authority, no one can exercise his/her responsibility. For the functional HRD, delegation of authority is extremely needed.

Mohammad Hasan