More than hundred garment industry workers in different areas of Dhaka, on Monday, staged demonstrations demanding their due wages – amid a country-wide lockdown – posing a risk of spreading Covid-19.
Workers from more than 10 garment factories blocked roads – in Uttara, Savar, Ashulia, and Gazipur – as they had not received their wages from the last month. Of the factories, one is in Uttara, four are in Savar and Ashulia, and nine are in Gazipur.
As a part of their protest, hundreds of workers of Dhakhin Khan-based Tex Tailor Export (Bd) Ltd blocked the Uttra-Azampur intersection from 10 am to 2 pm.
Sajedul Islam, an operator at the factory, told The Business Standard, "The authority said they would pay March salaries on April 26, but they have also closed the factory for the next two months without any information about our salaries."
"We demand our payment for March, along with a specific date for the April salary, otherwise, we will continue demonstrating," he added.
The same scenario was observed in Savar and Ashulia. Garment workers from four garment factories took to the streets for the second consecutive day on Monday demanding their due salaries.
Workers blocked Hemayetpur-Singair Road – in front of the three factories at Savar's Tetuljhora area – as part of their protest, industrial police said.
These three factories, owned by one owner, were closed in February – with salaries several months overdue.
Meanwhile, workers of Oxford Shirt Limited, a garment factory located at Salna area of Gazipur, on Monday, protested by blocking the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and lighting a fire, reports our Gazipur correspondent.
Police and agitating workers said Monday was the deadline for paying the workers – but the authorities had made a list of workers for termination, saying that the job contract had been for less than six months.
As a result, tensions spread among the workers. They staged demonstrations and padlocked the factory gates demanding they be able to work. A section of angry workers also blocked a portion of the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway.
BGMEA on the issue
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Director Rezwan Selim told The Business Standard, "We know about the demonstrations at 13 factories affiliated with the BGMEA."
"Some factories have not announced a specific deadline for paying their workers, which is the main reason for the situation. We are trying to make it possible by April 16," he continued.
Over 1,400 factories have already paid their workers until Monday."
He also mentioned that most factory owners were willing to pay their workers.
The BGMEA director also alleged that, in some cases, banks are not cooperating with the factory owners to pay their workers during this crisis.
According to the industrial police, 680 apparel factories paid their workers on Monday – of them, 476 factories are affiliated with BGMEA and 204 factories are with BKMEA.
Govt directs industry owners to pay salaries by Thursday
The government will take legal action against industry owners if they fail to pay their workers' March salaries by Thursday.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Munnujan Sufian has asked all industry owners to pay the March salary to their workers by April 16.
"Legal action will be taken if an owner fails to follow the directive," she said in a statement issued on Monday.
State Minister Munnujan has urged the workers to stay at home following the government's directives.