Around a 100 readymade garment (RMG) workers assembled in front of the National Press Club on Thursday demanding payment of their arrears wages since March.
While speaking to the press, National Garments Sramik Federation President Aminul Haque Amin claimed that at least 2 lakh RMG workers across the country have not been paid since March after the nationwide coronavirus pandemic shutdown began.
"Over 300 garment factories in Gazipur, Savar, Ashulia, Dhaka, Narayanganj and Chattogram are yet to pay their workers," he said, adding that the workers are going through immense sufferings amid the pandemic because of this.
Aminul called for the arrest of garment factory owners who have not paid their workers.
"Their wealth should be seized by the government and then the authorities can pay the salaries," he further said.
Nasima Begum, one of the protesters at the human chain, who is a machine operator of Dhaka-based Dragon Sweaters Ltd, told The Business Standard that she has not been paid since March.
"There is no option of doing overtime during this pandemic, and our salaries are not that high," she said, adding, "If they cannot provide this little amount of money, what is the point of running a business? The owners who have failed to pay wages during this crisis should be arrested."
Safia Parvin, a worker at the Savar-based Bakul Apparel, said she and her family have been evicted by her landlord because she could not pay the rent.
"We have moved in with a relative in Aminbazar. I don't know how long we will be able to survive like this. The local grocery shops refuse to sell products on credit," she added.
Asked why he has not paid his workers yet, the chairman of Dragon Sweaters, Mostafa Golam Quddus, refused to comment.
The Business Standard also tried to contact three other RMG factory owners who allegedly have not paid their workers since March, but none of them could be reached.
According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), as of April 22, among 2,274 of its members, around 92 factories had not paid wages to 48,200 workers since March.
Rubana Huq, president of the BGMEA, said the association is trying its best to ensure that the wages are paid before Eid.