Leaders of trade unions fear that owners of export-oriented industries may misuse the Tk5,000-crore government incentive announced to pay salaries to their workers, according to a study.
The findings of the study styled "Rapid Research Response to Covid-19" conducted by Brac Institute of Governance and Development's (BIGD) were made public at a webinar organised by the BIGD on Thursday. Mahin Sultana, leader of the research team and a senior fellow of the BIGD, presented the findings at the webinar.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation Babul Akter, founder and Executive Director of Aawaz Foundation Nazma Akter, President of Bangladesh Garments Workers' Solidarity Taslima Akter, DIFE and DIG Mostafizur Rahman, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Bank Dr Mohammad Habibur Rahman, and Director of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association Fazle Shamim Ehsan attended the web conference moderated by BIGD Executive Director Dr Imran Matin.
While presenting the study report, Mahin Sultana said, "Proper implementation of the package would alleviate the misery of the workers by removing the uncertainty regarding wages and job. However, there are questions about the quantity of the incentive package."
"The amount of money provided might not be enough to provide the salaries and allowances of 100 percent of the workers."
"With the current package, only 51 percent of the workers can be provided with their salaries for 3 months. Many factories have the capability to pay their workers' three months' wages on their own. We have proposed to exclude such factories from the incentive programme," Mahin Sultana added.
The report shows that workers and union leaders have a great lack of faith in the owners of the factories.
Union leaders said owners may provide a fake estimate to the government exaggerating the number of their workers.
They may create a fake workers' list to show that their factory has a larger number of workers than it actually employs and can create mobile banking accounts to embezzle the money.
The report also suggests that the employers may consider the incentive as a source of low-interest loans rather than an initiative to benefit their workers.
Mahin Sultana also said workers have lost faith in their employers due to their anti-worker mentality that they had shown in the past as well as the inability of the owners to curb their tendency to misuse previously provided government incentives for the benefit of workers.