RMG workers pile pressure for pay, bonus
Some garment factory owners are yet to decide on the payment of salary and bonus for their workers within the 20th of Ramadan, while the workers and trade union leaders in the sector continue to press home their demands.
Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council (BGWUC), a platform of 21 garment workers' federation, already submitted Saturday a memorandum to the president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) demanding Eid bonus and salary within the stipulated time.
The trade unionists alleged that a section of owners are dilly-dallying to pay the workers' salary and bonus on time.
"We want the owners to pay salary and bonus to the workers within the 20th of Ramadan and we placed our demands to the BGMEA chief to mount pressure,” said Touhidur Rahman, coordinator of the garment workers' platform.
Some owners are showing lame excuses saying that they make delay in payment of salary to the workers as they also receive delayed payment from foreign buyers, he said, suggesting that the owners should develop bargaining capacity with foreign buyers for better prices of sold merchandises.
"As per the general rule, the owners should pay the workers within the 10th of the month. But there are some owners who have not paid salary to their workers even in the middle of the month," Touhid further said.
In the memorandum the BGWUC demanded payment of all arrears and salary for the month of September before Eid and a change in the time of the rationing of essential commodities for the convenience of the workers.
At present BGMEA and BKMEA sell some essential commodities at a subsidised rate to the garment workers from 8am to 5:30pm. "We demand that BGMEA and BKMEA distribute the essentials in the evening, because the workers stay in the factories during the present time,” the BGWUC leader said.
BGMEA and BKMEA's rationing programme began from the first day of Ramadan.
Under the scheme, each worker is allowed to buy 3kgs and 700 grams of rice at Tk 100, 500 grams of red lentil at Tk 40 and 400 grams of gram at Tk 20.
Quamrul Ahsan, secretary of the Bangladesh Garment Sramik Karmachari Federation, said his organisation will also submit a memorandum to the owners through the BGMEA in a day or two demanding the timely payment of salary and bonus.
Meanwhile, at a press conference in Dhaka yesterday, a platform of some labour rights organisations, demanded the garment owners pay the workers' salary by today, the 15th of Ramadan, and bonus within the 25th of Ramadan.
Shah Atiul Islam, convener of the Workers and Employees Action Committee, threatened to go on agitation if this demand is not met within the stipulated time.
"According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the existing labour law of the land it is a fundamental right of the workers to get festival bonus, so the workers should not tolerate if they are not paid accordingly," he told the press conference held at the platform's office.
The workers' leaders also urged the garment owners to announce a 100 per cent dearness allowance on basic salaries of workers so that they could cope with the price hike of essential products.
They also demanded withdrawal of all types of restrictions on trade unions, claiming that current labour unrest might not have occurred if the unions were active.
The government is now allowing trade unions to function with imposing nine conditions to follow, the journalists were told.
When contacted, Shahidul Islam, the BGMEA vice-president, said, “Most of the garment owners pay both bonus and salary before Eid. Still we are working on how to ensure the payment of bonus and salary on time.”