About 600 RMG factories at risk of unrest before Eid-ul-Adha

প্রকাশিত: 10:01 PM, July 23, 2020

Desk News: Over half of a thousand garments and textile industries are at risk of unrest ahead of Eid-ul- Adha over payment of monthly wages, bonus and leave issues, according to the recent data of the Industrial police. Of those, 382 are Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) factories, 92 are Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) factories and 40 factories are under Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).

Sources said Industrial Police made this list on the basis of their daily field level intelligence report from their six units across the country. The Business Standard has obtained a copy of that report. According to the report, 92 factories located in Ashulia and Dhaka areas under Industrial police zone-1, 342 factories located in Gazipur area under Industrial police zone-2, 68 factories located in Chattagram area under Industrial police zone-3, 57 factories located in Narayanganj area under Industrial police zone-4 and 14 factories located in Mymensingh area under Industrial police zone-5.

None of the factories under Industrial Police zone- 6 in Khulna areas has the risk of unrest. A BKMEA director said that most of the SME factories were under pressure to pay their workers’ salary. “Now, we are to pay the salary of June, July and also the Eid bonus in the same month.

But we were in big trouble since March as the outbreak of Covid-19 disrupted our business severely,” he added. He also said that everyone was trying to minimise their cost, even though in some cases many sectors already had reduced their employees’ wages and stopped increment and promotion. “We have a field level monitoring report, which shows some 177 factories are at risks of unrest over payment of wages, Eid bonus and leave related issues,” said Munsur Khaled, senior additional secretary (compliance monitoring cell) at BGMEA. “Currently those factories are under close monitoring of surveillance team, and it’s a part of our routine work, as we do that every year,” he said. “We are keeping close contact with those factory owners to solve their problems and hopefully we will be able to solve those issues before the Eid vacation”, Khaled added. The BGMEA officials also have claimed that they have already paid the wages for June at 1,854 factories out of 1,926 operational factories. According to the Industrial Police data on Wednesday, a total 756 RMGs and textiles industries workers did not pay the salaries for June to their employees. Of those, 279 are BGMEA factories, 391 are BKMEA factories and 86 factories are under BTMA. “BTMA has already instructed all members in the line of government decision. Hopefully we will be able to pay workers within the deadline,” said Monsoor Ahmed, Secretary of BTMA. “We are trying to solve the problems of the troubled factories, and every year we do that”, said Arshad Jamal Dipu, vice president of BGMEA. Always BGMEA tries to solve the problems consulting with owners and banks. But in any case of failure to manage funds, the association lends them from their contingency fund which they have to repay within a year. But its recovery rate is very poor, he added.

On July 22, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Munnujan Sufian asked garment factory owners to pay the workers’ festival bonuses by July 27 and half of their current monthly salary in advance by July 30. The state minister made the statements while addressing the 65th meeting of the government-employers-workers’ tripartite advisory council (TCC) regarding the payment of Eid-ul-Adha bonuses of workers. The state minister has also advised the factory owners not to lay off any workers to keep the wheels of the economy turning and to keep production steady. A number of factories are yet to pay their workers’ June salary yet, as they are facing a financial crisis due to Covid-19, said Mohammed Hatem, first vice president of BKMEA.

Almost half of the factories did not get access to the stimulus package announced by the government, he said. “I think those factories have capacity; they may pay half or full salary for July, but as an association we didn’t pressure them for that. We called our members to pay workers as per labour law and on the basis of worker-owners’ relationship,” he added.

BKMEA leader further explained that when the government made such a call that makes a hope among workers to get another month’s salary, that might push entrepreneurs under some uncertainty to face worker unrest. However, the Labour Law says that the entrepreneurs must pay the wages of the former month of their workers within seven working days of the next month.