Tuba Group yet to estimate workers’ benefits

Moinul Haque

Tuba Group has failed to submit an estimate of benefits and compensations to be paid to the workers of its five closed apparel factories to the government in time.
Earlier, the government had asked the Tuba Group owner and trade union leaders to set the amount of benefits and compensations for the workers and to submit to the labour ministry in four working days. The deadline expired  on September 1.
Trade union leaders said that they had already estimated the arrears and benefits of the workers under the Sections 20 and 26 of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006.
Factory authorities said that they were working on it and got the deadline extended by the government as the task was not so easy.
On August 26, at a tripartite meeting, the state minister for labour rejected the notice issued by the Tuba Group managing director declaring closure of the apparel factories under citing Section 13(1) of act.
At the tripartite meeting, the government representatives, labour leaders and the owner decided that the notice was not appropriate and the owner must pay the workers as per the law.
Tuba Group authorities on August 18 posted the notice on the gates of the factories stating that the factories were closed with effect from June 11 under Section 13(1) of act.
At the meeting, the state minister also asked the factory authorities and trade union leaders to submit the estimate of the dues and benefits of the workers of the five closed factories.
There are two trade unions in the Tuba Group factories and they already fixed the amount under the provisions of termination and retrenchment stipulated in the labour act.
Combined Garment Workers Federation president Nazma Akter said that they had estimated about Tk 5.50 crore as termination benefits for the workers under Section 26 of the act and about Tk 3.84 crore as retrenchment benefits under Section 20.
She said that they had submitted the estimates to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association within the deadline.
Nazma alleged that the owner was killing time the owners’ association and Tuba Group could only say when the estimates would be submitted to the ministry.
‘We are working on it…hopefully the estimates will be finalised by this week and it will be submitted to the ministry by next week,’ said Tuba Group managing director Delwar Hossain.
He said that he had no ability to pay the termination of retrenchment benefits to the workers until getting insurance claims for Tazreen Fashions fire.
Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan and state minister for labour Mujibul Haque on September 4 sat with the high officials of insurance company and asked for paying Tk 18 crore to Delwar Hossain against the claim.
The insurance company on April16 rejected the claim of Delwar Hossain saying that the cause of the fire was not accidental.
At the tripartite meeting on August 26, the two ministers promised Delwar that the insurance company will be compelled to pay the insurance claim.
The workers of five apparel factories of Tuba Group went on fast unto death the day before Eid-ul-Fitr for arrears of their wages for three months and festival allowances.
After 11 days, the workers were paid partial arrear wages and no festival allowance under arrangement of the BGMEA.
Delwar, also the owner of Tazreen Fashions Ltd where at least 117 workers were killed in a deadly fire in November 2012, had been in jail since February as the police had pressed charges against him for culpable homicide by negligence.
After being released on bail on August 5, he announced closure of the factories on August 18.

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