We welcome the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) for starting the disbursement of due wages and other benefits of the laid-off and retired workers of 25 shuttered state-run jute mills. The government closed down the mills operating under the BJMC on July 1. The prime minister at that time directed the officials concerned to prepare a list of workers of the state-run jute mills and send their dues directly to their bank accounts. More than two months after the shutdown of the mills, the BJMC has finally started paying the workers. However, according to our report, the authorities handed over cheques to only 30 laid-off workers during the cheque disbursement ceremony on September 15, while around a hundred workers with their family members were not allowed inside the Karim Jute Mills Corporation where the ceremony took place.
Around 25,000 permanent workers lost their jobs as the government closed down these jute mills. Although they were supposed to get their dues and other financial benefits as soon as possible, many of them are now being harassed by the BJMC in the name of processing their payments. They are now worried whether they would ever get their dues and benefits. The workers have also complained that the entire process of payment has been carried out in an uncoordinated manner from the very beginning, which has exacerbated their sufferings. Many of them have been forced to leave their residences in Dhaka and return to their villages as they are now jobless.
According to the jute ministry's decision announced on June 28, the laid off permanent workers and retired workers should receive their dues directly in their bank accounts. While 50 percent of their dues will be paid through bank cheques, the other 50 percent will be paid through savings instruments. Many of the workers, however, have no idea about savings instruments and are finding it hard to submit various types of papers required by the mill authorities.
The BJMC and mill authorities should give clear guidelines to the workers on how to submit the required documents for the savings certificates instead of harassing them for those. The pace of the payment process is also not satisfactory. The BJMC should work efficiently and pay the workers as quickly as possible. They should not also forget about the temporary and substitute workers and allocate funds to compensate them.