Almost all the garment and knitwear factories have paid their workers Eid festival bonus and salaries for July yesterday, in a refreshing departure from previous years, where the days leading up the religious festivals are almost always marred by demonstrations.
As many as 96 per cent, or 1,821 out of 1,898, of the factories that are members of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have paid workers Eid festival bonus, while 94 per cent, or 1,788, of them have paid the salary for July.
This update came from the field level as of 3:00pm yesterday and the balance is expected to be cleared by the evening, said Khan Monirul Alam Shuvo, chairman of the PR Standing Committee of the BGMEA.
The 850-odd factories registered with the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) have disbursed the salary and bonus, said Mohammad Hatem, vice-president of the trade body.
Sirajul Islam Rony, a former representative for garment workers in a minimum wage board, also confirmed that a majority of the factories had paid workers as of yesterday.
The factories though could not get away by not paying the workers their dues given the outsize help they have been getting from the government.
So far, the export-oriented sectors, which are largely dominated by apparel and textile factories, have received Tk 10,500 crore in bailout funds from the government to tide them over the economic hardship brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic.
The sectors originally got Tk 5,000 crore to pay the workers' salaries for three months from April. The amount has since been topped up twice, with the latest coming last week.
Last week, the government provided Tk 3,000 crorefor the payment of workers' salaries for July.
In spite of that, some factories had provided half of July's salary, according to Rony.
But every decision was taken after consultation between the factory managements and workers.
"There was no untoward incident, which indicates that factories have paid the workers or reached an understanding about the payments," Rony added.
Shuvo reiterated the same about the absence of worker agitation this time.
One of the reasons there were no demonstrations were two departments under the ministry took timely measures to resolve any crisis, said KM Abdus Salam, secretary to the labour and employment ministry, in a press release yesterday.
As many as 23 regional bodies of a national crisis management committee worked together to monitor the progress of the payment to workers ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.
Begum Monnujan Sufian, state minister for labour and employment, expressed satisfaction over the payment of bonus and salary by the factory managements, the statement added.
Only a few factories in the industrial zones in Gazipur and Chattogram were yet to pay their workers, said Shibbath Roy, inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
"Our deputy inspector generals are working at the field level and I am hopeful that by the evening they will also complete the payment as our officers are negotiating with the management of those factories," Roy said in the ministry statement.
Last week, union leaders and factory owners decided that the payment of bonus to workers of 42 different sectors be made by 27 July and 50 per cent of the salary of the currently month on 30 July.
In the meeting, government officials, union leaders and factory management representatives reached consensus that the Eid-ul-Azha holiday would be for three days and the workers have been requested to stay put near their places of work to avert the spread of the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, 3,575 out of 7,602 units in industrial, manufacturing and services sectors paid salaries to workers as of yesterday, according to a source in industrial police.