The Bangladesh garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has suggested its members to consider the closedown of factories for coronavirus outbreak as lay off as per Bangladesh Labour Act 2006.
Majority of the readymade garment factories across the country have already closed down after the recommendation from BGMEA to shut the factories in line with the government’s announcement of public holiday to prevent spread of coronavirus on March 26.
More than 50 factories, where production was continuing, on Saturday forced to shut the units in the face of the protests from workers.
Hundreds of readymade garment workers on Saturday took to the street in Ashulia, Gazipur, and Dhaka city demanding closure of factories with wages amid the fear of coronavirus outbreak.
‘An employer may, at any time, if necessary in the event of fire, sudden catastrophe, breakdown of machinery, stoppage of power supply, epidemics, widespread riots or any other cause beyond his control, stop any section or sections of his establishment, wholly or partly, for such period as the cause for such stoppage continues to exist,’ said section 12 of the Labour Act.
According to the section 16 of the act, workers will be paid half of the total of the basic wages and dearness allowance and ad-hoc or interim wages, if any, and equal to the full amount of housing allowance that would have been payable to him if he had not been so laid-off.
One of the BGMEA officials said that nearly 80 per cent RMG factories were closed till Friday and 20 per cent tried to continue their operation on Saturday but most of them failed against the protests of workers and announced closure until April 4.
BGMEA president Rubana Huq on Saturday told New Age that majority of the garment factories remained closed across the country and very few were trying to go on as they were producing personal protection equipment.
Regarding lay off, she said that BGMEA suggested its members that anyone who has insufficient orders could lay off factory as per the labour laws.
In a letter on March 23, BGMEA suggested its members to mention the reason of closure of factories under section 12 and 16 of labour law.
It also suggested factory owners to mention in the closure notice that how long the factory would remain close.
Mahtab Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury, managing director of Falcon Group, however, said that he would shut his unit under section 13/1 of the Labour Act as workers stopped their work on Saturday without any notice.
More than 1,600 workers of Falcon Group blocked the road at Nobodoy Housing kitchen market at 10:00pm on Saturday demanding leave with pay.
Workers said that they were in a fear of coronavirus outbreak. Considering the lives of the workers they demanded leave until April 4 in line with the government announcement but factory owners denied the workers granting both leave and wages.
Mahtab Uddin said that he had a shipment of 60,000 pieces of orders but workers stopped their work illegally and he would close his factory under section 13/1 of labour law.
If the factory is closed down under section 13/1 of BLA workers would not get any wages.
Another BGMEA official said that under the circumstances many factories were closed without issuing any clear notice but all the closure might be considered as lay off.
‘Before the date for paying wages, we will sit with the government and workers will be paid as per the direction from the government,’ he said.
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