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436 textile, RMG units prone to labour unrest

Payment of wages, allowance


Monira Munni | Published: May 22, 2019 10:14:25 | Updated: May 22, 2019 17:16:30


- FE file photo used for representation

Some 436 textile and readymade garment (RMG) factories across the country are 'vulnerable' to labour unrest over payment of wages and festival allowance, officials said.

Sources said non-payment of dues, varying amounts of festival allowance, workload ahead of Eid and sudden closure of factories are among the reasons that might fuel unrest.

Out of the 436 factories, some 328 are the members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) while 89 are registered with Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and 19 are affiliated with Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), according to Industrial Police (IP) who shared the details in a recent meeting held at the home ministry.

IP has also categorised the factories as A, B and C, ranging the possible risks to labour unrest ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.

It put some 120, 29 and 03 factories of BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA members into A category where the majority of units are subcontracting their work and most vulnerable to labour unrest, according to its officials.

The factories which fall into B category included 87 from BGMEA members while 25 from BKMEA and 10 from BTMA, they added.

Some 121 BGMEA, 35 BKMEA and 06 BTMA member factories have fallen into C category.

The units are located in Ashulia, Gazipur, Chattogram, Narayanganj, Mymensingh and Khulna areas.

Intelligence agencies, however, identified some factors for possible labour unrest that include absence of fixed festival allowance in garment factories, and non-payment of wages and allowance (including festival) seven to eight days before Eid vacation starts.

Besides, not getting Eid holidays timely and as demanded, sudden lay-off or closure of factories in Ramadan or ahead of Eid, workers' termination, heavy workload at night during Ramadan, and no provision of fixed working hours in the fasting month are also among the factors.

IP also identified a good number of factories, located in the export processing zones (EPZs), as vulnerable to labour unrest, the officials said.

There are some other factories that are not the members either of BGMEA or BKMEA.

There is also jute, plastic, chemical and re-rolling mills and the number of non-RMG and non-textile factories, according to IP, is 238.

They all run the risk of witnessing labour unrest anytime, the officials added.

When contacted, Abdus Salam, additional inspector general of the IP, said this time they have categorised the factories according to possible level of their risk to unrest based on a wide range of issues.

"We've sent the lists to BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA so that they can take necessary steps to avert any untoward incidents in industrial units ahead of Eid," he told the FE.

The IP is in contact with the units identified as vulnerable to labour unrest, he said, adding that they have kept them under close surveillance too.

The authorities of the units have assured them of paying wages and festival allowance along with other dues to their workers before Eid vacation starts, he added.

Rights organisations, on the other hand, alleged that uncertainty and confusion have been created among the workers as the labour ministry is yet to fix any deadline for making payment of wages and festival allowance.

A meeting of the crisis management core committee under the labour ministry on May 13 failed to fix any deadline for paying monthly wages and festival allowance to the country's garment workers.

Besides, leaders from the apparel sector at the meeting demanded payment of wages for 15 days of May before Eid.

The committee has been fixing deadlines for paying wages and festival allowance since 2013.

Labour leaders warned that factory owners would be held responsible for any unstable situation over non-payment of wages and allowance.

National Garment Workers-Employees League (NGWEL) President Sirajul Islam Rony said the number of untoward incidents over non-payment of wages has declined in recent years.

But in absence of any clear instruction from the government related to wages for the month of May and festival allowance, there are still a good number of factories where the workers are worried over getting their monthly wages and festival allowance in time, he added.

"We demand that both monthly wages and festival allowance be paid before Eid so that workers can buy tickets to go home and do some shopping," he stated.

He also urged the government to fix an amount equal to the basic pay as festival allowance.

munni_fe@yahoo.com

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