The government has directed garment and textile factory owners to immediately pay workers 50 percent of their basic salaries as an Eid bonus, and to pay the remaining half within the next six months.
The decision was made during a meeting held at the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday, presided over by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Monnujan Sufian, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Salim Osman, and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq also attended the meeting.
After the meeting, BGMEA Senior Vice President Faisal Samad told The Business Standard that factory owners will pay 50 percent of basic salaries to workers before the Eid vacation. The rest will be given, based on solvency of the factories, within the next six months.
Apparel industry sources said most of the factories did not pay their workers 100 percent of the basic salary, with most usually paying 50 to 70 percent as an Eid bonus every year.
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre President Montu Gosh said, "We labour leaders were not informed about the decision taken at the meeting as we were not invited. However, we urge that salaries and full bonuses be paid to workers as per the labour law."
However, leaders of the Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad and IndustriALL Bangladesh Council were present at the meeting.
About 2,500 garment and textile factories have not yet paid wages for April even till mid-May. Meanwhile, over 100 factories have yet to pay wages for March to their workers.
According to the labour law, factories are legally obligated to pay workers within seven working days of the beginning of a month.
In response, workers are staging demonstrations every day, demanding their unpaid wages and Eid bonus.
On Saturday, about 20 garment factories faced demonstrations in Dhaka, Ashulia, Gazipur, and Narayanganj.
Graps International Ltd workers blocked the road at Satarkul area of Badda in the capital, demanding their due salaries and bonuses.
Pakhi Akter, an operator at the factory, said the owners have not paid a part of the salaries for March or the full salary for April.
The local ward commissioner was able to get the factory owners to commit to paying workers by May 21, after which the demonstrators returned home.
According to the Industrial Police, workers of five garment factories staged demonstrations in Ashulia. The factories are: Adiyab Fashion Ltd, Jeasa Fashion Ltd, Sorker Steel Mills Ltd, Magpie Knit Composite Ltd, and Magpie Knit Composite Ltd Unit 2.
Workers of 10 factories staged demonstrations in Gazipur. The factories are: Alpha Dresses Ltd, ATS Sweater Ltd, Target Fashion Wear Ltd, Stylish Garments Ltd, Tas Knitwear Ltd, Belly Seema Apparels Ltd, Delta Group Ltd, Dhaka Socks Ltd, Walkfield Ltd, and Libas Knitwear Ltd.
Azad Refat Fashion Ltd workers staged a demonstration in front of a factory owner's house in Ramarbag, Fatullah, of Narayanganj. The workers were supposed to have been paid via mobile financial services.
According to the Industrial Police, 90 workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus since garment factories resumed operations on April 26.