Factories won’t shut down without PM’s direction: state minister

Trade unions demand immediate closure with wages 

Staff Correspondent | Published: 01:14, Mar 22,2020


State minister for labour Begum Monnujan Sufian on Saturday said that the production in the garment factories would continue unless prime minister Sheikh Hasina directed them to shut down.

In a meeting with the readymade garment factory owners in the wake of the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the state minister said that no one should think about the closure without any direction from the prime minister, meeting sources said.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Rubana Huq, former presidents M Siddiqur Rahman and Abdus Salam Murshedy, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Salim Osman and vice president Mohammad Hatem, among others, attended the meeting held at Shrama Bhaban in the capital.

Officials in the meeting said that factory owners expressed their eagerness to keep factories open as long as they had supply orders.

They also sought support from the government to pay wages and allowances to the workers during upcoming Eid festivals.

‘Factories will continue production and the labour ministry will hold another meeting with trade union leaders tomorrow,’ Rubana Huq told reporters after the meeting.

The labour rights groups, however, demanded immediate leave of workers with wages to protect the country’s labour intensive industry from COVID-19 that killed two people and infected 24 so far in the country.

Garment Workers Trade Union Centre on Saturday urged the government and factory owners to be sensible to protect workers from the viral pandemic and demanded immediate leave of garment workers with wages.

The union centre’s president Montu Ghosh and its general secretary Jolly Talukder in a press release urged the factory owners not to announce any lay-off in their factories and to allow leave with full wages.

They said that wages and allowances for the month of February still remained outstanding in many garments factories and it should be cleared before the announcement of any factory closure.

In every crisis, factory owners gain cash incentives and policy supports but workers always remain deprived, the union centre said, and factory owners should give up the mentality to deprive workers during any pandemic.

Bangladesh Garment Shramik Sanghati president Taslima Akhter and general secretary Julhasnayeen Babu on Saturday demanded temporary closure of garment factories to protect the workers from the infection of COVID-19.

They urged the government and factory owners to allow immediate leave for the workers with wages to protect thousands of workers and the readymade garment sector.

The organisation in its press release said that the government should strictly monitor the commodity prices, house rent and vehicle cost so that workers were not affected with the price hike.

National Workers Federation on Saturday demanded daily essentials and sanitizers for workers for one month.

The organisation said that if it was necessary to shut down factories due to the viral outbreak, the factory owners must ensure wages to the workers.

Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Rights Movement demanded closure of garment factories and to pay the monthly wages to the workers.

The platform of labour rights groups on Friday in a meeting expressed concern over the viral pandemic in the country and urged the government to announce immediate closure of garment factories to protect workers from the pandemic.

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