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Factories continue job cut amid virus

11,000 lose jobs in last two weeks; RMG units take the lead

Monira Munni | June 18, 2020 00:00:00

Industrial units across the country barring those in Dhaka metropolitan area terminated nearly 11000 workers in the past two weeks, according to reliable sources.

The factory owners took recourse to shedding jobs as part of their move to dilute the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their businesses.

According to Industrial Police (IP), a total of 129 industrial units under its jurisdiction of six industrial zones, except Dhaka Metropolitan area, terminated more than 21,000 workers until Wednesday.

Of them, the job duration of 13,942 workers was less than one year.

The number of total terminated workers was 10,493 until June 01 last, according to IP data.

Labour leaders, however, alleged that the number is much higher than the official data and majority of the terminated workers' job duration was less than one year and they are not entitled to get any termination benefit in accordance with the law.

They also alleged that despite the government's stimulus package to pay wages for the period from April to June this year, the export-oriented industries, mostly garment factories, have been terminating their workers.

But, the workers received only 60 per cent of their gross wages in April, they said, adding a good number of workers were yet to get their wages for the month of May until Wednesday.

Of the total 21,331 workers, IP sources said, 19,409 were garment and textile workers.

Eighty-six member mills of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have shed 16,853 jobs and 16 units of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) 2,298 jobs.

Four mills under Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) have also cut 258 jobs.

Some 56 workers from eight factories under Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and 1,866 workers from 15 non-RMG units were terminated during the period of spreading the virus, according to the IP.

Contacted on Tuesday, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) inspector general Shibnath Roy said the state-owned department has asked its inspectors to prepare a list of workers who were terminated during the last two weeks, especially after the Eid-ul-Fitr.

Earlier, the DIFE prepared a list showing that some 67 factories, including seven non-RMG units, terminated a total of 17,579 workers until May 31.

When asked, Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation president Nazma Akter said the number would be much higher than the official data and most of those workers' job duration was less than one year.

Despite the government's repeated call and stimulus package, the RMG factory owners were terminating the workers, she said, alleging that most of the factories were retrenching only those who had been working in the factories for less than one year.

They are the worst sufferers as they would not get any compensation, she said. She demanded compensation for these workers who are also victims of the pandemic.

Ms. Akter also demanded lawful compensation for all the terminated workers.

The factory owners, however, said the factories were operating at 55per cent capacity due to lack of adequate work orders and maintaining health safety guideline, social distancing and working with less workforce.

They also feared that many factories would be closed down, resulting in unemployment of a good number of workers due to the unprecedented pandemic.

The BGMEA president did not comment over the issue until filing of the report at 5.30 pm.

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