Production in nearly 80 garment factories at Savar, Ashulia and Gazipur was suspended yesterday in anticipation of a massive labour unrest over prompt implementation of the wage board's recommended minimum salary of Tk 5,300.
“I have closed down five of my units at Kashimpur fearing unrest. I will reopen them once I hear of the government and BGMEA's final decision on the minimum wage,” said MA Jabbar, managing director of DBL Group, a leading garment group.
A total of 9,000 workers are employed in the five units that were closed, he said. “The government and the BGMEA should resolve the wage issue as soon as possible to avoid further unrest.”
Momin Mondol, managing director of Mondol Group, another leading garment group in Gazipur, also said he suspended production in one of his units fearing unrest.
“They [the workers] come and leave as they please, without doing any work. However, they did not submit any written demand to the factory management.”
He, too, said he is waiting on a decision from the government and BGMEA.
Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said nearly 80 factories in Savar, Ashulia and Narayanganj shelved production
But our Gazipur and Savar correspondents said 12 factories in Savar and Ashulia and 20 in Gazipur remained shut.
The BGMEA president said the owners will meet with the labour and employment minister on November 11 to discuss the minimum wage issue. “We are expecting a decision from the government in the meeting.”
He said the small and medium factories will face difficulties in implementation of the recommended salary at Tk 5,300 per month.
“We need a win-win situation. The board has imposed the recommendation on us -- the industry will not be able to sustain the recommended salary structure.”
Meanwhile, Sirajul Islam Rony, workers' representative on the wage board, said the garment owners should accept the minimum salary as it was the decision of the wage board. “They [the owners] should just accept it. The minimum wage would have to be raised at some point – be it today or tomorrow.”
“I told labour leaders not to channel the workers' anger into a full-blown unrest. There is still time for discussions,” Mikail Shipar, labour and employment secretary, said after a meeting with trade union leaders of the garment sector.
He went on to urge the owners and workers to change their position for greater interest of the sector.