Factories to remain open amid viral pandemic

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:55, Mar 23,2020


The  labour ministry on Sunday decided that all the industrial units across the country would continue production with precautionary measures to protect the workers from COVID-19.

State minister for labour Monnujan Sufian took the decision after two meetings with labour leaders at Sromo Bhaban in the capital.

Leaders of a group of trade unions, however, placed five-point demands to the ministry. Their demands include leave for at least 14 days for the workers with full monthly wage and transportation allowances.

Shramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, the highest platform of the country’s labour right bodies, recommended continuing production in the factories with proper protective measures.

Wajed-ul Islam Khan, a former co-coordinator of the parishad, said they did not want any closure of factories, including those of the garment sector.

He said that closures might trigger panic and COVID-19 might spread further as workers would move across the country.

‘We’ve told the government that if the situation deteriorates and demands closures of factories, closures must be announced after the workers were given the full monthly wage,’ Wajed said.

The parishad urged the government to ensure protective measures in all factories to keep the workers protected from possible COVID-19 infection, said Chowdhury Ashikul Alam, general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Shangha.

We also demanded rationing facilities of daily essentials, including medicine for workers and institutional quarantine arrangements in the industrial zones if needed.

The oikya parishad leaders also demanded that the government and factory owners must ensure safety and cleanliness at the places where the workers were living as the safety and cleanliness only in factories could not prevent COVID-19.

They also demanded an emergency fund for workers and formation of a taskforce comprising of workers, owners, government and experts to decide what to do amid the ongoing pandemic.

In a separate meeting with the minister, Garment Sramik Odhikar Andolan, a platform of 10 trade unions of the garment sector, demanded leave for at least 14 days with full monthly payment and transportation allowance.

It also demanded that the workers must not be sacked during the leave period and the government and factory owners must ensure regular wage payment if the factory closure prolonged.

Considering the cancelation of garment export orders, the platform urged the government to provide financial support, including incentives and low cost finances for factories.

In the meeting, the state minister said that safety of workers was the utmost priority of the government and if necessary, the ministry would provide support to the workers from the labour welfare fund.

According to the meeting sources, the state minister said that if the situation deteriorated, prime minister Sheikh Hasina would take the decision of the factory closure.

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