Minister for Textiles and Jute Golam Dastagir Gazi has started the process of paying–in cash and savings certificates–the dues of the retired and laid-off workers from the closed mills under the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC).
Gazi inaugurated the programme on Tuesday in Demra, on the outskirts of Dhaka, by paying arrears to employees of Karim Jute Mills Limited.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian and Secretary to the ministry KM Abdus Salam attended as special guests.
Secretary of the Ministry of Textiles and Jute Lokman Hossain Mia presided over the function.
Bangladesh's government, on June 28, announced that 25 jute mills under the BJMC would shut down, 24,886 workers would be sent into retirement and their dues would be paid in full by September this year.
At Tuesday's programme, Golam Dastagir Ghazi said that the prime minister has taken the responsibility for the jute mill workers.
"As per her promise, the BJMC has started the process of paying the dues of the retired and laid-off workers of the closed mills in cash and savings certificates. The workers of the remaining mills will be paid soon in the same process after the necessary inspection," he added.
On Tuesday, savings certificates were handed out to 30 former employees.
A total of 1,759 terminated workers of Karim Jute Mills are owed Tk192.00 crore. The arrears of 612 retired workers total Tk34.37 crore.
A total of Tk251.58 crore, including Tk25.21 crore for 2,625 temporary workers, is being paid.
The minister said that it has been proposed that about Tk5,000 crore be paid–approximately Tk4,000 crore dues of the 24,609 permanent workers of 25 closed mills and about Tk1,000 crore in arrears of 10,107 workers who retired after 2013–over three phases.
However, the prime minister sympathetically considered the financial plight of the workers and directed the authorities to pay all the dues at a time in the current financial year.
"In the interest of future financial security and the safety of the workers, the prime minister has instructed the authorities to pay 50% of each in cash and the remaining 50% in the form of profit-based savings certificates," said Golam Dastagir Ghazi.
He said that as per the provisions of the Labour Act, 2006, instead of 60 days' notice, the workers have already been paid their wages for July and August 2020 without working.
Further, as per the instructions of the prime minister, for the one-time payment of 100% dues of the workers, the accounts of all the dues have been audited, finalised and sent to the finance ministry.
The Finance Division has already released the required amount for all the dues of the workers, who had retired earlier from Karim Jute Mills, and the recently laid-off workers.
From this, 50% of the dues of all the workers of Karim Jute Mills are being paid in cash–through bank accounts. The remaining 50% is being processed for paying in the form of savings certificates.
Meanwhile, two primary schools, two secondary schools and nine high schools are being run in different mill areas with the funding of BJMC.
In order to continue the educational activities of the students of these schools, initiatives have been undertaken to run the schools through nationalisation and MPO registration, according to the Ministry of Textiles and Jute.
A committee has been formed to revive the closed jute mills plus modernise and reactivate the mills according to a suitable model.
Another committee has also been formed to reconstitute the organisational structure of BJMC.
Based on the recommendations of the two committees, the closed mills will be reopened.
The Ministry of Textiles and Jute hopes that the former experienced workers will get the opportunity to be re-hired.