Tuba Group owner Delwar Hossain was freed from jail on bail yesterday though the government pledged to block his release.
Delwar had been detained in jail since February in a case linked with a 2012 fire that killed 112 people at Tazreen Fashions, a garment unit of Tuba Group, in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital.
The High Court on July 24 granted an ad-interim bail to Delwar for two months, hearing his lawyers' argument that unrest had ensued as workers of Tuba Group's industrial units did not get salaries since he was taken into custody.
The government decided to challenge the HC bail order, the prosecution said before Delwar's release.
Deputy Attorney General Shafiul Bashar Bhandary had said he opposed the bail petition before the HC, as there were serious allegations against Delwar of negligence in saving the lives of garment workers from the deadly fire at Tazreen.
Although the bail was granted two weeks ago, the government could not prepare an appeal against the bail as of yesterday.
He, however, could not say when the appeal would be filed, as he did not get the copy of the HC order. After filing the appeal, he would move it before the Appellate Division for staying the bail order.
Meanwhile, workers of five garment units of Tuba Group, many of whom have been on a hunger strike since July 28 demanding payment of arrears, overtime bills and Eid bonuses, became furious at the release of Delwar.
The managing director of the group walked out of the Central Jail at 8:00pm after the jail authorities received a copy of the bail order, said Golam Haider, deputy inspector general (prison).
"It is like rubbing salt into the wound," said Mohammad Miraz, a worker at Bukshan Garments owned by Tuba Group.
“Delwar is responsible for the killing of a huge number of workers. His bail is a humiliation for 1,600 Tuba Group's workers,” said Shilpi, another worker.
"We have been nearly starving for three months," she added.
The news of Delwar's release came hours after workers of the group threatened to go for tougher programmes like hartal or blockade unless the government and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) take steps to pay their dues today.
They demanded payment of their salaries of May, June and July along with overtime bills and festival bonus, which amount to Tk 4.14 crore, on the factory premises of Tuba Group at Hossain Market in the capitals Badda.
The agitating workers also refused to accept two months' wages that BGMEA offered to pay.
“We will push for a workers' strike across the country unless our demands are met. We will not stop until we get full payment of the dues,” said Miraz, a worker of Tuba, at a protest rally in front of the BGMEA headquarters.
Under the banner of Tuba Group Sramik Sangram Committee, a platform of 15 labour organisations, the protesters demonstrated for around two hours in front of the BGMEA office in the capital's Karwan Bazar. Members of left-leaning political parties also joined the rally.
They scuffled with policemen when law enforcers foiled their attempts to enter the BGMEA office. The agitators then held a rally blocking the entrance to the association's office.
The agitating workers vowed to continue their hunger strike until they receive their dues in full.
Meanwhile, the garment makers' association in a statement yesterday asked the workers to receive two months' salaries from its office today, and said Tuba Group would pay Eid bonuses and the rest of the arrears later.
BGMEA will not be responsible if the workers do not receive their salaries of May and June, it said.