More than 1 lakh workers of 166 readymade garment factories in Chattogram have not yet been paid salaries for March despite the labour ministry's order to clear the wages within April 16.
Of these factories, 41 are registered with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Demanding salaries, the workers of the garment factories have staged protests almost every day during the ongoing shutdown.
The BGMEA on Saturday claimed that around 95 percent workers of their factories have been paid for March.
BGMEA Director Mohammad Atik told The Business Standard, "Among 324 BGMEA factories in Chattogram, 41 have not been able to pay the wages of March. Around 15,100 workers work in these factories. The factories told us that they will clear the wages within this week."
"Twenty-two factories are in operation in Chattogram with permission from the administration. The owners are running their factories with a limited number of workers because of the pressure of shipment," he added.
According to the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishment (DIFE), more than 20 percent of factories in Chattogram have not paid March wages. The factories which are not members of any organisation are more likely to be late in payment.
Md Al Amin, deputy inspector general of the DIFE, said, "Our officials cannot work due to the coronavirus. So, we could not make the list of the factories which have not still paid wages to their workers. We will prepare the list within the next two days."
According to the Industrial Police, 545 of the total 711 RMG factories in Chattogram have paid the wages of March to their workers. That means 166 factories have defied the labour ministry's order, which is around 23.34 percent of the RMG factories of Chattogram.
Among the 324 BGMEA registered factories of Chattogram 283 factories have paid wages of March to their workers till Sunday.
Apart from the RMG factories, other factories of Chattogram are well ahead in paying salaries to their workers. Among 461 factories, so far, 404 have paid March wages and 57 factories have pledged to pay the due wages within this week.
Quamrul Hasan, senior assistant police super of Chattogram Industrial Police, said, "Workers of many factories in Chattogram have not been paid their wages yet. They are staging protests almost every day. We are urging the owners to pay the dues to the workers. Many of them have pledged to pay the due within this week."
Workers' demonstrations in Dhaka
Workers of several industries on Sunday staged demonstrations demanding arrear wages and their job security.
Meanwhile, a garment worker tested coronavirus positive in Ashulia on Saturday evening and then he was admitted to the local upazila health complex.
About 2,000 workers of eight factories – six RMG factories, one spinning mills and a cable industry – on Sunday staged demonstrations demanding their arrear salaries and protesting a job cutting move.
They also blocked roads in different areas of Dhaka, Savar, Nabinagar, Ashulia, Narayanganj and Narsingdi,
According to police and industry sources, the six factories are in Dhaka's Mirpur-based Prince Garment and Mohammadpur-based Rajdhani Apparel, Nabinagar-based Pantra Port Apparels, Ashulia-based Embroidery and Print, Hemayetpur-based Mars Design and Narsingdi-based JS Link Apparels (JAJ Bhuiyan Group).
Ufaz Uddin Spinning Mills at Savar and Narayanganj Paradise Cables workers also staged demonstrations for arrear wages.
However, the factory was opened on Sunday as it has some shipment orders.
Prince Garment had decided to fire 70 workers. In protest, workers staged demonstrations and blocked roads.
Later demonstrators called off their two-hour road blockade after the factory authority had assured them to withdraw its previous decision, said Md Al-Amin, secretary of Motherland Garment Workers' Federation.
About 300 workers of Rajdhani Apparel blocked the road in Dhaka Uddan of Mohammadpur for two hours yesterday morning.
The BGMEA's media and PR standing committee Chairman Khan MonirulAlam said the situation was resolved and roads were freed.
After a discussion, the factory management has ensured the workers will be paid their March salaries on April 23.
About 300 workers of Pantra Port Apparels blocked roads in Nabinagar demanding their last month's wages and they went back home on assurance by police.
About 400 workers of Mars Design blocked roads in Hemayetpur, demanding their two months' wages.
Ruble Mia, an operator of the factory, told The Business Standard, "We are not paid for the last two months and officers for the last four months."
Some 300 workers of JS Link Apparels blocked roads in Narsingdi for their last month's wages.
Some 300 workers of Ufaz Uddin Spinning Mills in Savar municipality area blocked nearby roads demanding their last month's wages and about 300 workers of Narayanganj Paradise Cables staged demonstrations for their last ten months' arrears.
According to the BGMEA latest update, the workers of 2,093 factories out of 2,274 factories have been paid.
The payment of the rest 181 factories is under process.