Almost all the apparel factories in the country have disbursed wages for the month of July, and festival allowances to their workers ahead of Eid-ul-Adha.
According to industrial police data, out of 3,846 readymade garments factories across the country, 3,668 have paid worker salaries for the month of July, and 3,764 have paid festival allowances to their workers. From this count, 95.38 percent of the total factories have paid salaries for the month of July while 97.89 percent have paid Eid bonus till Saturday.
“RMG factory owners have made it possible with support from the government as well as from labour leaders and RMG workers,” said Mohammad Amjad Hossain, superintendent of police (Intelligence and Operations) of the Industrial Police Headquarters.
“We (industrial police) have a strong team that is closely monitoring the issue, and is giving updates from time to time to the ministries (ministry of home affairs and ministry of labour employment) concerned” he added.
Meanwhile, the president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Dr Rubana Huq, told The Business Standard that they formed 15 teams to monitor factories this year.
“To the best of our knowledge, no one has been left out of our radar. The BGMEA teams have been vigilant and have performed their duty with diligence”, the BGMEA leader added.
Pointing out that the industry has faced a number of difficulties in recent times, including about a 30 percent increase in the cost of production, and difficulties in the finances of the sector, Dr Rubana expressed satisfaction by saying, “Our members have been able to send our workers home with a smiling face by paying them their salary and bonus.”
“We hope that from next year onward, the payment of salary and bonus will not be a media event, and that it will not even be considered to be in your news radar”, she added.
Any industry must pay salaries and bonuses to their workers and be a partner in their joy, she said. She added that, at the end of the day, is the workers who determine the sustainability of the industry.
Bangladesh National Garments Workers Employees League (BNGWEL) President Sirajul Islam Rony confirmed that their data revealed that the export oriented garment industries have paid almost 100 percent of their workers their festival bonus and monthly wages.
“A few small and medium factories have not paid their workers yet”, he added. But expressed the hope that some of them will pay by Saturday night.
However, he added that, “There are some factory owners who are not willing to pay in time, and for that they always try to avoid supervision by the labour ministry.”
He also thanked the industrial police for their diligent monitoring this year, saying that many small and medium factories have had to pay their workers in time because of this.
Nazma Akter, founder and executive director of Awaj Foundation, also expressed satisfaction over progress in disbursing monthly wages and Eid bonuses this year.
“We should recognize the good initiatives of the RMG owners. For the last few years they have done very well”, said Nazma Akter.
She went on to say that all stakeholders, including government officials, BGMEA leaders and workers have worked unitedly to make this improvement possible.
Referring to earlier occasions when workers used to come out on to the street to get their monthly wages and Eid bonuses, industry insiders including business leaders, labour leaders and industrial police have expressed satisfaction over the fact that the situation has changed over the last couple of years.
Talking about the recent improvement in disbursing salaries and festival allowances, former president of BGMEA, Siddiqur Rahman said, “When we took charge of BGMEA in 2015, it was a big issue. So, soon after taking office we took on this issue as a challenge.”
BGMEA formed a number of strong monitoring teams one and half months ahead of the first Eid festival in 2016, and assigned them to specific zones to monitor the situation there, he said. He also said that at the same time, these teams collected information from government intelligence agencies such as DGFI (Directorate General of Forces Intelligence), National Security Intelligence (NSI) and department of inspection of factories and establishment (DIFE) about the factories.
“After getting the intelligence information, we analyzed the factories’ previous export data, bank records, and called their owners to discuss the issue” said BGMEA former president Siddiqur.
Some BGMEA leaders talked to related banks to clear workers’ payments, he added.
Finally, the BGMEA was able to resolve all the issues before Eid day.
“We had some sad experiences as well. Some factory owners went on the run after their business collapsed, and finally BGMEA had to sell the machinery of their factories to pay their workers,” he added.
Payment of Eid bonus and salaries till Saturday
In Ashulia, out of 791 factories, 758 have paid salaries and 768 paid bonus.
In Gazipur, out of 1,242 factories, 1,183 have paid salaries and 1,201 have paid bonuses.
In Chattogram, of a total of 697 factories 672 have paid salaries and 632 have paid festival allowances to their workers.
In Narayanganj, 998 factories out of a total of 1056 have paid salaries, and 1005 have paid bonus to their workers.
In Mymensingh, the number factories that have paid salaries and bonus stands at 52 and 53 respectively, while the total number of factories is 55.
In Khulna, the number of factories is 5. All the industries have paid both salaries and bonus to their workers.