• Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Wait for salaries, bonus gets longer

Garment makers delay payment to several thousand workers

Refayet Ullah Mirdha

With Eid only a day or two away, thousands of garment workers did not receive their salaries and bonuses even yesterday, the deadline earlier set by the garment owners.

The owners have sought one more day, which is today, to pay the workers before the Eid festival.

This means the workers are going to have an Eid they never expected, if they are not paid by today, the last banking day before the Eid holidays begin. And even if they do get paid today, many of them may not be able to spend the biggest religious festival with their near and dear ones back home away from the capital.

The garment makers at a meeting with State Minister for Labour and Employment Ministry Mujibul Haque Chunnu and workers' leaders on July 15 had said the salaries and bonuses would be paid by July 26, which was yesterday.

Sirajul Islam Rony, member of the minimum wage board for the garment workers, said, nearly 500 garment factories did not pay the workers till yesterday.

“I personally talked to many owners and they took one more day, meaning they will pay the workers on July 27 [today],” Rony told The Daily Star over the phone.

Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, said still there are at least 20 factories, including Tuba Group, which are in such a weak state that "these factories may not pay the salaries for the current month, although they may pay the bonuses”.

Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said many owners have already paid the workers, but some are taking one day more so that they can complete their shipment on time.

About the factories considered to be in "weak" state, Azim said, “They also agreed to pay the workers. I hope all workers will be paid by tomorrow [today],” Azim said.

Meanwhile, the workers of Tuba Group, which owns Tazreen Fashions that was burnt down in November 2012 killing 112 workers, yesterday released Mohammad Rubel, brother-in-law of company owner Delwar Hossain.

Along with Rubel, the workers also confined Delwar's mother-in-law Laili Begum in a room of the factory on the 11th floor of Hossain Market building at the capital's Badda on Friday, demanding three months' arrears and bonuses before the Eid.

“After negotiation, the workers released my son Rubel, who is the group accountant, at 11:00am today [Saturday] so that he can try to manage funds to pay the workers,” Laili Begum told The Daily Star over the phone from her confinement.

“We are trying to manage the fund, but the banks are not giving us loan as the managing director [Delwar] of the group is in jail now ... We also tried to sell some properties of the group, but those are already mortgaged to different banks,” she said. Delwar is in jail in a case filed in connection with the Tazreen Fashions disaster.

“The company authorities can feel the sufferings of the workers, but we are helpless as we don't get loans even against the LCs,” Laili Begum said.

“Still, we are hopeful that we will be able to pay the salary of at least one month and bonus to the workers by tomorrow [Sunday],” she said.

Over 1,600 workers of the factory have been demonstrating over the past two weeks for salaries and bonuses before the Eid.

“The group management had assured us of the payment several times, but they haven't done that yet though the Eid is very close,” Sumi Akter, a sewing operator of the factory, said.

“We had confined both the mother-in-law and the brother-in-law of Delwar Hossain to realise our demand as we do not have any alternative,” she said.

Abdul Jalil, officer-in-charge of Badda Police Station, said a team of law enforcers were deployed at the factory site to avoid any untoward incident.

Laili Begum was confined there till this report was filed at 10:00 last night.

 

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, July 27, 2014

Last modified: 8:11 pm Sunday, July 27, 2014

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