After much dilly-dallying by owners, most workers of around 500 garment factories finally got their wages and bonuses yesterday.
Once the fruit of their sweat was in their hands with Eid only a day or two away, they set out in no time to celebrate the biggest religious festival with their near and dear ones back home away from the capital.
“I received 15-days' salary of this month and bonus,” said Mohammad Tamijuddin, a senior operator of a Narayanganj-based knitwear factory, as he was waiting at Mohakhali Bus Stand to get on a bus for his home at Gopalpur in Tangail.
“My monthly salary is Tk 12,000 and I got half-a-month's salary today [yesterday]. Plus the management paid me Tk 6,000 as bonus,” he said.
The garment workers were supposed to be paid by Saturday, but the factory owners delayed the payments so that they could complete the shipments on time.
“To reduce the workload, we worked on two holidays this month as the workers would go on Eid holidays,” Tamijuddin said with a streak of a smile on his weary face.
Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, said almost all factories paid the workers by yesterday. “The factory owners paid the Eid bonuses and wages of either 15 days or 20 days of the current month.”
Sirajul Islam Rony, member of the minimum wage board for garment workers, said, “The payments might have been delayed but were made.”
However, it was another day of disappointment and despair for the workers of Tuba Group as they did not receive their wages yesterday either.
Over 1,600 workers of the factory have been demonstrating over the past two weeks for arrears and bonuses before Eid. And they have kept Laili Begum, mother-in-law of owner Delwar Hossain, confined since Friday morning at their factory in the capital's Badda.
“We are also staying at the factory till now. We will celebrate Eid at the factory. We did not get the salaries and bonuses despite repeated assurances from the management,” said Sumi Akter, a worker of the group.
The management on Friday had claimed that they could not raise funds enough to pay the workers.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the group indeed could not manage the funds yet.
“We have postponed today's press briefing only because of the Tuba Group issue. The company did not get any funds from banks. So the workers could not be paid,” Azim said.
“Except for Tuba Group, all the factories have already paid the workers,” he added.