Garment workers of Tuba Group continue with their hunger strike inside their factory in Badda yesterday demanding unpaid wages and Eid bonuses. Their colleagues are seen checking up on them. Photo: Palash Khan
The Tuba Group workers on hunger strike yesterday demanded cancelling "the bail" for its owner Delwar Hossain in a case over the 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire.
As their fast entered the fifth consecutive day, the workers also rejected the BGMEA's pledge of payments in seven days.
About 1,600 workers of Tuba factories could not go home during the Eid holiday being left without three months' arrears and festival bonus. The day before Eid-ul-Fitr, they began the hunger strike on the premises of Hossain Market that houses their units.
The aggrieved workers also announced an agitation programme for today to press for their five-point demand that include cancelling the bail reportedly granted to the group's managing director before Eid.
"We demand cancelling Delwar Hossain's bail. We want the highest punishment for him,” Moshrefa Mishu, president of Garment Workers Unity Forum, told journalists on the spot.
"We also demand payment of arrears and bonus to the workers and compensation for their physical and mental sufferings due to the hunger strike,” she added.
"Besides, the authorities have to ensure job security of workers after the payments."
Today's demonstration will start at 11:00am in front of Hossain Market in North Badda, Dhaka.
Joined by eleven more organisations under the banner of Tuba Group Sramik (workers) Sangram Committee, the agitation will continue until 12:30pm, said Mishu, who is also on hunger strike since Monday.
At a press conference on Thursday, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said they would make the payments within seven days as they are negotiating with a bank for a loan.
The Tuba Group could not pay the workers for three months and bonus before the Eid as the bank loan could not be secured in the absence of the owner of the group, according to the management and BGMEA.
The group needs Tk 4.14 crore for the payments.
In Moshrefa Mishu's view, the BGMEA pledge is nothing but a drama. “Their statement is irresponsible and inhuman as well.”
"We will withdraw our hunger strike once the Tuba management pays three months' arrears, one month allowance for overtime and Eid bonus," Mishu later told The Daily Star over the phone.
"If our demands are not met, we will continue our agitation programme and it will spread all over the country."
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of BGMEA, yesterday said, "We will sit with the labour minister on Sunday to find a solution to the workers' problems.”
He added, “If Delwar Hossain is released, the problem will be resolved as soon as possible."
Workers say they learnt about "Delwar's bail" from media reports. They don't think the owner being released on bail will meet their demand right away.
Delwar, managing director of Tuba Group, has been in jail since February in a case filed over the fire at Tazreen Fashions, a concern of the group, in 2012. At least 112 workers were killed in the incident.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Ministry Mujibul Haque Chunnu Thursday told The Daily Star that Delwar had been granted bail before Eid. The order of the bail may reach the jail by Sunday or Monday.
Meanwhile, at least 60 workers on hunger strike fell sick. Of them, 10 have been hospitalised, said Faridul Islam, one of the workers.
"We are also concerned about the fate of our job after the hunger strike," said Farid, who has been working with the group since 2007.