State minister for labour Monnujan Sufian on Wednesday said that the workers of the readymade garment factories, which were closed in April due to general holidays announced by the government, will get 60 per cent of their gross monthly wages for the closure period.
She made the announcement following a meeting of Tripartite Consultative Council at Shrama Bhaban in the city as workers in Dhaka and Gazipur continued to stage protests demanding payment of arrears and reinstatement of their recently sacked fellows.
Factory owners and a group of trade union leaders attended the meeting.
Monnujan Sufian said that most of the factories were closed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic but the workers who worked in few factories in the month would get the full wages.
The junior minister assured that the wages of workers would be sent through mobile financial services and there would be no layoffs at RMG factories amid the pandemic.
Most of the garment factories remained closed from March 26 to April 25 in line with the government-declared holidays and the factories started gradual reopening from April 26.
‘The leaders of the garment sector trade unions have stayed away from the meeting as the state minister for labour had announced earlier on Tuesday that workers would get 60 per cent of their wages in April,’ Salahuddin Shapon, former secretary general of IndustryALL Bangladesh Council told New Age.
He said that the decision of the meeting was predefined to deprive the workers of their rightful wage.
Shapon, also the president of Bangladesh Revolutionary Garment Workers Federation, alleged that the government announcement was not implemented in the RMG sector as factory layoffs and retrenchment of workers were taking place every day in the sector.
He sent a letter to the labour secretary on Wednesday asking the authorities to sidestep section 12, 16, 20 and 26 of Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 for the time being by imposing section 324 to protect the workers from layoffs and termination amid the ongoing pandemic.
Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre on Wednesday expressed their dissatisfaction over the decision of cutting workers’ wages by 40 per cent during the general holidays.
The organisation in a press release demanded not to cut wages and terminate workers from their jobs.
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments on Monday sent to the labour secretary a list of 938 factories, where units were laid off by the owners.
Out of 938 factories 95 per cent was RMG units, ministry officials said.
Tripartite Consultative Council in a meeting on Tuesday decided that the factories that had announced layoffs would not be considered.
According to Industrial Police data, a total of 2,356 industrial units, including 1,116 textile and readymade garment factories, remained open on Wednesday under the jurisdiction of the agency.
Out of 1,116 garment and textile factories, 817 are members of BGMEA, 214 registered with Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and 85 are members of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association.
Meanwhile, several hundred workers of two garment factories in Gazipur on Wednesday staged demonstrations protesting at termination of workers and demanding reinstatement of their fellows.
Workers of Dhaka Export Processing Zone garment factory A One BD Ltd at Ashulia also demonstrated for their four months arrears.
Police said that the workers of Textech Company Limited at Shafipur started a demonstration in the morning as the factory management seized the identity cards of 60 workers who also went to join work, reported New Age correspondent in Gazipur.
As the news spread among the workers that 60 workers were terminated, several hundred workers of the factory occupied the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway, said Sushanta Sarker, additional superintendent of industrial police in Gazipur.
At Tongi, several hundred workers of Ayesha and Galia Fashion blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway for hours as they came to know that the factory management was going to terminate some workers soon.
On information, police rushed to the spot and took control of the situation, said industrial police inspector Islam Hossain.
BEPZA general manager Abdus Sobhan said reporters that the Italian owner of the factory remained missing for months so DEPZA would begin to pay workers by selling goods of the factory soon.
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