RMG workers` unrest feared

800 units found vulnerable, BGMEA in close watch

23 August 2017 Kazi Zahidul Hasan

The country’s apex trade body for apparel sector now keeps a close watch on 800 garment factories fearing workers’ unrest ahead of Eid centring non-payment of arrear salaries and festival bonuses.

These factories are in financial constraints over the last few years.

“The crisis management cell of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is closely monitoring the situation to avert any untoward situation ahead of Eid,” Faruque Hassan, Senior Vice-President of BGMEA, told The New Nation yesterday.

These factories are vulnerable to workers' unrest, as the owners are not paying their workers on a regular basis.

“We have asked the garment factory owners to immediately pay arrear wages, salaries and Eid bonuses before Eid holiday begins. The BGMEA will mediate with the leaders and workers if any impasse is created in this process,” Faruque added.

When asked, he said the majority of the factories are small and medium in size and many of them are engaged in subcontracting. They are passing through financial hardship resulted from inadequacy or lack of work orders in the wake of stringent safety and compliance rules enforced by global buyers.

“Owners of these factories are dilly-dallying to clear workers’ arrear salaries, wages and Eid bonus. They are showing various excuses so that they can avoid workers’ payment before Eid. Non-payment of their workers can lead to disorder in the country’s key garment industrial belts,” Amirul Haque Amin, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council Chairman, told The New Nation on Tuesday.

He claimed these factories have not yet paid 2-3 months arrear salaries.

Workers of three Ashulia factories have already staged demonstration at their workplaces demanding arrear salaries. Even non-paid workers of many factories are also staging demonstration in front of the BGMEA office regularly.

The labour leader urged the authorities concerned and BGMEA to clear workers’ arrear salaries before Eid to maintain peace in the garment industries. BGMEA should create a contingency fund to help any factory facing financial crisis to pay its workers.

Meanwhile, the law-enforcing agencies, including industrial police, have been put on alert to tackle any untoward incident in the readymade garment sector ahead of Eid.

The Industrial Police have already prepared a list of 385 vulnerable industrial units. Of them, some 300 are readymade garment (RMG) factories.

It sent the list to the ministries concerned and BGMEA expressing the apprehension that labour unrests might take place at these industrial units over payment of monthly wages, arrears and festival allowances.

The agencies concerned were asked to closely monitor the activities of some non-government organisations and labour organisations that were allegedly involved in workers’ unrest at garment factories in the recent past.

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