Workers of state-owned jute mills will get their arrear wages ahead of the Eid, thanks to an allocation of Tk 169.14 crore by the government.
The finance ministry yesterday sent a letter to the textiles and jute ministry about the funds for clearing ahead of the Eid the wages of 29,000 workers of 25 mills of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC).
The development comes nearly two months after widespread demonstrations by workers demanding fair wages and arrears began in different districts.
“We are going to get our due wages at last… But we had to suffer a lot in the last two months,” said Nasima Begum, a worker at Khalishpur Jute Mills in Khulna.
She said her family had been taking loans to buy food and other necessities.
“Many others suffered like me. Shop keepers have stopped selling things to us on credit,” the 45-year-old woman told The Daily Star, adding that she had not been paid in eight weeks.
However, some 2,600 other employees of the BJMC mills are yet to see any government allocation for their salaries.
The jute ministry in a letter to its chief accountant yesterday said all payment should be made to the workers’ bank accounts through account payee cheques.
A detailed statement that includes the list of workers of the mills has to be sent to the Finance Division within a week after the payment, according to the jute ministry letter.
Nevertheless, some workers are sceptical about the receiving the arrears.
“We have been promised [of arrears] on several occasions in the last two months. How can I believe until I get the money?” said Mohammad Robiul Islam of Khalishpur Jute Mills.
In the face of losses and falling sales, the BJMC earlier sought Tk 337 crore to clear the wages and salaries of nearly 32,000 workers and other employees.
Abdul Maleque, general manager (accounts and finance) at the BJMC, said the fund for the arrears was allocated under the Wage Scale for State Workers 2010.
“We have got the funds to clear the wages until June. We expect that the workers will get their arrears by the end of this week.
“But, we have not received any allocation to pay the salaries of officials and staffers of the mills. This is frustrating.”
He added that the other employees had not been paid in five months.
Maleque, however, said the BJMC would submit to the finance ministry a list of about 1,400 staffers and their arrears today to get the necessary funds.
The finance ministry said the money allocated yesterday was provided as an operational loan to the BJMC.
The BJMC would repay the loan in two instalments a year with 5 percent interest for the next 20 years.