More than four lakh readymade garment workers are yet to get their salaries for March until yesterday — the deadline set by the apparel makers and the government.
Meanwhile, disgruntled workers of at least 40 garment factories took to the street yesterday in Dhaka, Savar, Ashulia, Narayanganj and Gazipur amid the countrywide shutdown imposed to curb the coronavirus spread.
The workers blocked roads and staged demonstrations. They said most of the factory owners have not declared a specific date by which they will pay their workers last month's wages.
However, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said 87 percent of garment workers have been paid.
Talking to The Business Standard yesterday, BGMEA President Rubana Huq said, "The rest mostly belong to small and medium factories. They do sub-contracts and supply to both traditional and non-traditional markets, are now facing a liquidity problem."
As many as 2274 factories are BGMEA members, and of them, 1,665 factories have cleared payments of their 21.59 lakh workers till yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA) has 833 factories with about 8.5 lakh workers. BKMEA President AKM Salim Osman claimed they have paid nearly 91 percent of workers of 750 factories.
According to the claim of the two manufacturers' associations, about 3.20 lakh workers under the BGMEA factories and 76,500 workers under the BKMEA are yet to get paid.
Hundreds of workers of Binni Garment Ltd and Sarder Garment Ltd blocked roads in Dhaka's Kamalapur area yesterday morning for March payments.
Liberty Garments workers barricaded a road at Mirpur 11 in Dhaka in the morning with the same demand.
In the evening, quoting Binni Garments Marketing Director Sujat Mohammed Hasan, BGMEA President Rubana Huq said Binni Garments cleared the payments later on the day.
She, however, claimed that Sarder Garment is not associated with the BGMEA.
The BGMEA president told The Business Standard that Liberty Garments paid their workers on April 12.
Workers of the garments gathered yesterday over a rumour that the factory would be shifted, said Rubana.
Some mid-level staffers of the garments were working on utility bills while their activity was billed among the workers as the shifting process.
But the factory said they do not have any plan to relocate, Rubana added.
Yesterday morning, workers of six apparel factories gathered on roads in Savar and Ashulia demanding that a specific payment date be declared.
The factories are Faolin Garment Ltd, Gloria Dress Ltd, ZA Apparel Ltd, Penta Foot Garment Ltd, Crystal Garment Ltd and Eline Garment Ltd.
Hundreds of workers of three factories blocked roads in Narayanganj and staged a demonstration for a specific payment date. The factories are Hamid Fashion Ltd, TS Sports Ltd and Usan Garment Ltd.
Chief Executive Officer of Hamid Fashion Ltd Abubakar Siddik Litu told The Business Standard that they were experiencing liquidity crisis and would pay the workers by April 23.
Workers of as many as 22 factories blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh road in the morning.
Those factories are Albert Kingswear Ltd, Style Crafts Garment Ltd, Bhuiyan Garment Ltd, Givenchy Garment Ltd, Nabik Spinning Ltd, MHC Apparels Ltd and KDM Global Apparels.
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) on Tuesday in a circular said it would make a list of the factories which will fail to pay wages to their workers by yesterday and send it to the labour and employment ministry by April 20.
Cases will be filed according to labour law while renewal of licences will be suspended for those listed factories, the DIFE warned in its official notice.