Delwar Hossain, managing director of Tuba Group, yesterday sought Tk 30 crore in soft loans from the government to help his businesses turn around.
“I have lost everything. I have nothing left to sell for money,” said Hossain with tears in his eyes, while reading a written statement during a media briefing at Hotel Sundarban in Dhaka.
“I was in jail. I could not pay the workers. The workers could not celebrate the Eid and I am guilty.”
“I came to the press conference, with a guilty conscience.” Taking questions from reporters, Hossain said four of his garment units are now in operation, where 1,100 workers are employed.
After a fatal fire at Tazreen Fashions, a unit of Tuba, Hossain shut down eight units, leaving about 6,000 workers jobless.
“It all started with the Tazreen fire,” he said.
The members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the garment makers' platform, paid arrears of May and June to 1,600 workers of Tuba Group while Hossain was in jail.
Hossain said he sold a printing factory established on 16 kathas of land at Badda in Dhaka, a 9.5-katha plot and machinery of the closed factories to pay July's salary, workers' overtime dues and clear the payments of the lenders of the BGMEA.
“I hope I will again be able to export $50 lakh worth of goods a month if I can restart the business with the loan. I can also employ 6,000 workers again,” Hossain said in his first public appearance since being released on bail from jail on August 5.
Hossain was sent to jail on February 9 in a case related to the Tazreen fire, which killed 112 workers in 2012.
Hossain also called upon other garment factory owners to employ workers of his five units, as they are skilled workers.
Hossain said he would restart production in the five units soon, but he did not mention any specific time.
Asked, he said the company could not pay the workers for three months as the company failed to complete the work orders in May.
“It was sub-contract work orders. When the workers started agitation, the sourcing company took back their orders,” he said.
Hossain said he used to export $40 lakh worth of garment items a month before the Tazreen fire, which dropped to $28 lakh in 2013 as the retailers walked out on the company.