The National Garment Workers Federation has demanded a 30% annual risk allowance for garment workers.
It made the demand at a human chain held in front of the National Press Club on Friday morning after a rally.
The organisation said garment workers have been risking their lives to work in factories even at times other than the novel coronavirus pandemic. They have been continuing production. So, the workers raised this demand considering the overall situation.
Amirul Haque Amin, president of the organisation, said, "Most factory workers in Bangladesh have been working at a risk to their lives. Even during the [novel] coronavirus pandemic, workers risked their lives to produce in factories for the sake of livelihood and industry. But, they are unable to speak openly for some valid reasons."
"On the one hand, there is a risk to life and on the other hand, uncertainty over employment and a rise in commodity prices – considering all this together, we have demanded a 30% annual risk allowance," he added.
The leaders of the organisation at the programme said garment workers always depend on overtime as their wages are low. Their monthly income has decreased due to a lack of overtime during the Covid-19 pandemic and other reasons. As a result, the workers now have to work longer hours for a lower income.
Additionally, in this time of crisis, garment factory owners have demanded that the government let them suspend the 5% annual increment of wages for workers for two years.
Arifa Akhter, general secretary of the organisation, said, "It is inhuman, unjust, and reprehensible. Using the [novel] coronavirus situation as an excuse, garment industry owners are trying to suspend the provision of an annual salary increase for workers. But the owners have taken all kinds of benefits from the government on the pretext of the [novel] coronavirus crisis."
"My question is – why should the workers fall into such a bad situation? The garment industry owners' demands are not justifiable in any way," said Arifa.
Safia Parveen, vice-president of the organisation, Rafiqul Islam Rafiq, its organising secretary, Faridul Islam, joint secretary, and many others spoke at the human chain.
Further, General Secretary of the Industrial Bangladesh Council and Ekota Garments Workers Federation Kamrul Hasan expressed his solidarity with the workers' demand.