Police and the apparel-makers' association have identified as many as 700 readymade garment factories that may face labour unrest centring wages, festival bonus and holidays ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said the 700 factories are affected by the pandemic-led business slump. The identified factories are under the close monitoring of the BGMEA and industrial police to avert any untoward incident.
The BGMEA officials said they have already visited 554 factories. Of them, 510 production units claimed they would overcome the payment issues before Eid, while 44 factories were in talks to solve the problems.
According to the BGMEA, it has 1,938 apparel factories registered with the association. Of them, 1,667 RMG units are in the Dhaka zone and 271 in Chattogram zone.
BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim said the apparel manufacturing units have been two types of challenges – payments and Eid leaves.
On payments, he said they have requested the government to allocate another stimulus for apparel exporters, but it may take time as the Eid is just around the corner.
"So, we are negotiating with banks to help apparel manufacturers about worker payments," he added.
Shahidullah Azim said already 367 factories have paid April wages and 583 factories disbursed festival bonuses among their workers.
On leave issue, the BGMEA leader said three-day holiday in upcoming Eid may agitate the apparel workers as they usually get seven to ten days Eid vacation.
The government Wednesday asked the public and private offices not to give more than three-day holiday in the upcoming Eid in a bid to check Eid rush-led Covid-19 infection surge.
The BGMEA vice-president said they will follow the government directives on Eid vacation as the association has asked its members to follow the government order strictly.
In the meantime, BGMEA Vice-President Rakibul Alam Chowdhury said of the 271 garment factories in Chattogram, 188 are completely export oriented and they hopefully will be able to clear the payments before the Eid vacation.
Rakibul said 12 Chattogram-based factories are struggling with worker payments Before Eid. On behalf of the production units, the BGMEA is in talks with banks to assist the factories in clearing the payments.
Contacted, Nazma Akter, president of the Bangladesh Sommilito Garments Shomik Federation, said they are optimistic about the payments by next Sunday.
"We will not tolerate any delay since the factories are in production with workers at the production lines under serious Covid-19 infection risks," the rights activist for the apparel workers added.