Hayder Ali from Shahjadpur in Sirajganj, who worked in a garment factory in Narayanganj, was sacked over a trivial issue in 2012. He filed a case at Dhaka's Third Labour Court seeking Tk80,000 in arrears pay and reappointment, which is yet to be settled in eight years.
"I have been going to court for eight years and I am tired. The defendants are influential people and owners of large factories. They have kept the case pending by manipulating lawyers and the court," Hayder told The Business Standard.
At present, Hayder lives in his village home in Shahjadpur. He has to come to the court often.
"The court does not hold proceedings on the days fixed for the verdict. The defendant's lawyer takes time from the court by shuffling various excuses," he added.
Not only Hayder's case, there are almost 19,000 under-process cases in the Labour Appeal Tribunal and seven labour courts in the country, according to the data provided by Dhaka's Labour Appeal Tribunal.
Of these, there are 4,961 under-process cases in Dhaka's First Court, 5,674 cases in the Second Court, and 4,308 cases in the Third Court.
Furthermore, Chattogram's First Court has 1,500 under-process cases while the Second Court has 600 cases.
There are 300 under-process cases in the Khulna Divisional Labour Court and 550 cases in Rajshahi.
Around 1,102 cases await settlement in the Appeal Tribunal, and of these, the High Court has stayed 279 cases.
Labour courts in Sylhet, Barishal and Rangpur could not start trail due to a lack of judges.
The government has not taken any initiative to settle these cases quickly.
"The number of under-process cases in the labour courts is piling up gradually. Labourers are deprived of justice in these courts because defendants keep the cases pending, influencing the courts," said labour lawyer Advocate Selim Ahsan Khan who works at a USA based labour organisation.
"Judges do not hold trials regularly. Besides, the government is not concerned," he added.
The only Labour Appeal Tribunal of the country, which is in the capital's Kakrail area, is even slower in handling cases.
Take the example of Nilima Khatun, who worked in a garment factory under the Creative Group in Adabar. She was sacked in 2010. She filed a case at Dhaka's Third Labour Court that year seeking arrears pay and reappointment with the help of the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust.
In 2013, the court ordered the company to reappoint her and pay the arrears. However, the defendant appealed against the verdict at the Labour Appeal Tribunal. In seven years that appeal has not been included in the daily list of the tribunal.
According to the registrar's office of the tribunal, almost half of the 500 appeals are quite old.
Advocate Selim Ahsan Khan said, "Defendants obtain a stay order for five years through a High court writ. In this case, the appeal tribunal is made ineffective by the High Court."
"The appeal tribunal is working fast at present. In the past, the delay in recruiting the chairman slowed the pace of the trial," said Adhir Chandra Bala, registrar of the Appeal Tribunal.
Lovely Yasmin, the president of the Bangladesh Textile Garments Workers Federation, said, "We have filed many cases at the Dhaka Labour Court, and are fed up because the court delays the cases. Judges do not come to the court regularly. Moreover, the court works in favour of the owners most of the time. In labour courts, owners' lawyers waste time by shuffling various types of excuses at court."