Amid the readymade garment workers' demonstrations for April salary and Eid bonus, a tripartite meeting of the government, garment owners and labour leaders failed to reach any decision Thursday on the topic.
But the four-hour long meeting agreed on a three-day Eid holiday and payment of May salaries of the apparel workers after the vacation.
However, the workers will not be able to celebrate the biggest Muslim festival at their ancestral homes this year as the government restricted Eid trips amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The RMG Tripartite Consultative Council meeting was held at Shromo Bhaban in the capital Thursday. State Minister for Labour and Employment Munnujan Sufian presided over the meeting.
Representatives of 42 labour organizations including Fazlul Haque Montu, president of the National Labour League, China Rahman, general secretary of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council and Sirajul Islam Rony, president of the Bangladesh National Workers League were present at the meeting.
The labour leaders demanded payment of at least half salary of May and Eid bonus before the festival to be held May 25. They also demanded a full basic salary as the Eid bonus for workers.
The labour leaders also alleged that the employers were not maintaining the earlier meeting commitments and workers are being terminated everyday followed by the Covid-19 crisis.
At the meeting, former apparel manufacturers association President Abdus Salam Murshedy refused May salary before Eid. "Banks are yet to disburse even April salary to workers' accounts," he said.
Referring to the labour law, he further said that the workers are supposed to get paid the last month salary in the first seven working days of the current month.
In the meantime, another former President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said that apparel demand has been declining in global market since the virus outbreak.
"If the factories do not get new orders, the situation will get worse," he added. The former BGMEA president proposed 20 to 25 percent of last year's bonus payment for this year.
But labour leaders rejected the proposal saying that if other industries can pay their workers 100 percent of basic as bonus, why RMG sector will do otherwise.
Labour ministry sources said they will meet on Sunday on the issue.
BGMEA President Rubana Haque, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) President Mohammad Ali Khokon, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA) Senior Vice-President Mohammad Hatem and Bangladesh Employers' Federation Executive Committee Member Fazlee Shamim Ehsan were present at the meeting. Labour Secretary KM Ali Azam moderated the event.
According to the industrial police, 977 garments and textile factories have paid their workers with April salaries as of Thursday. Of the factories, 561 are BGMEA members while 290 are from BKMEA and 126 are from BTMA.
However, workers of 106 garments and textile factories are yet to get their March salaries. Of the factories, 54 are BGMEA members while 42 are from BKMEA and 10 are from BTMA.