Delwar now wants low-interest loan to reopen Tuba factories

Staff Correspondent

Tuba Group managing director Delwar Hossain on Sunday sought a low-interest loan from the government to reopen the five factories located at Badda in the city which were closed on August 18 without paying benefits to the workers.
‘If any banks or financial institutions provide me with a low-interest loan of Tk 25-30 crore, I will be able to resume production in the five factories and export garment worth $4-5 million,’ he said in a press conference at Sundarban Hotel in the city.
A total of 1,500 workers of five apparel factories of Tuba Group began a hunger strike the day before Eid-ul-Fitr for wage arrears of three months and allowances.
After 11 days, the workers were paid partly but no festival allowance under an arrangement by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association as the owner of the company was in jail.
Delwar, the owner of Tuba Group, also owns Tazreen Fashions Ltd, where at least 117 workers were killed in a deadly fire in November 2012 and he had been in jail since February as the police had pressed charges against him for homicide resulting from culpable negligence.
After being bailed out on August 5, he announced closer of the factories on August 18 under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act.
At Sunday’s press conference, Delwar said that he had no option but to close the factories under section 13(1) as all his property had already been mortgaged. He alleged that during the workers’ agitation, a group of outsiders took away products ready for delivery, machine spares and furniture from the factories.
He said that all the dues of the workers had been cleared but the festival allowance could not be paid as he had been in prison and his business had been ruined.
Delwar claimed that the company had failed to pay wages and allowances in time as the workers halted production on June 10 demanding wages for the month of May.
‘If the workers had continued the production, allowance would not have been a problem,’ he said.
An investigation conducted by the government found that the closure notice of Tuba Group factories under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act was not appropriate.
The labour ministry had taken the initiative to look into whether section 13(1) of the labour act was applicable to the Tuba Group factories.
‘As per the direction of the ministry, we have investigated the matter and informed the state minister for labour that section 13(1) of the labour act was not applicable to the [Tuba Group] factories,’ Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the Department of Inspection of the Factories and Establishments, told New Age on Sunday.
He said that the department would ask the owner of Tuba Group to comply with the laws related to factory closure so that workers were not deprived.
Tuba Group authorities on August 18 hung the closure notice on the gates of the factories stating that the factories were closed with effect from June 11 under section 13(1) of the labour act.
Labour leaders termed the closure illegal saying that Tuba Group was trying to deprive workers of their legitimate benefits and compensation.

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