The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment (DIFE) in a circular yesterday urged garment factory owners not to terminate any worker to avert labour unrest in the country.
On April 25 during a tripartite meeting of the government, factory owners and union leaders, it was decided workers will not be terminated from factories in this situation, DIFE mentioned in the circular.
However, in the last two months, some 17,579 workers of 67 factories were terminated in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Chattogram, Gazipur, Savar and Ashulia because of the economic fallout due to the coronavirus pandemic, as per reports from offices of 23 deputy inspector generals of the DIFE.
The terminations have resulted in incidents like blockades on roads and highways.
Union leaders say many factory owners also paid only 60 percent of the salary and bonus with the promise that workers will at least not lose their jobs. Many terminations happened nonetheless, they said.
Trade union leaders, workers and different trade union organisations have been coming to DIFE to lodge complaints and for solutions as workers are being terminated and factories are closing due to lack of work orders, said Amirul Haque Amin, president of National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF).
However, workers should not have been terminated as the government gave a stimulus package worth Tk 5,000 crore and owners also paid only 60 percent salary, Amin said.
The factory owners have been terminating extra workers. A list of such additional workers should be prepared soon for helping them financially if they get terminated, Amin added.
There should be a central coordination committee soon involving government, buyers, factory owners, union leaders, leaders from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association for monitoring the termination of workers and spending funds which are meant for garment sector.