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Pre-Eid labour unrest

Over 300 RMG units vulnerable: Police

Monira Munni | July 25, 2019 00:00:00

Some 328 factories including textile and readymade garment (RMG) across the country, except for Dhaka metropolitan area, are 'vulnerable' to labour unrest over the payment of wages and festival allowance, officials said.

People familiar with the situation said the non-payment of dues, variety in festival allowance, workload and holiday ahead of Eid are among the reasons that might fuel unrest, they added.

Of the total factories, some 151-or almost half-are the members of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Some 41 are registered with the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and 09 are affiliated with the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), according to Industrial Police (IP) who have already shared the details with the sector's trade bodies.

Jute, plastic, chemical and re-rolling mills are included and the number of non-RMG and non-textile factories is 127.

They all run the risk of witnessing labour unrest anytime, the officials added.

IP has also categorised the factories as A- highly risky, B-medium and C and less, based on the possible risks to the labour unrest ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.

It put some 77, 18 and 04 factories of the BGMEA, the BKMEA and the BTMA members into A category, which are most vulnerable to labour unrest, according to its officials.

The factories, which fall into the B category included 52 from the BGMEA members while 15 from the BKMEA and 05 from the BTMA, they added. Some 22 BGMEA and 08 BKMEA member factories have fallen into the C category.

The units are located in six IP zones-Ashulia, Gazipur, Chattogram, Narayanganj, Mymensingh and Khulna areas.

When asked, an IP official said they are closely monitoring these factories and holding meetings with management for timely payment while avoiding any untoward incidents. The IP also sent the lists to related trade bodies, he said.

Labour leaders, however, have identified some factors for the possible labour unrest that include the absence of fixed festival allowance in garment factories, and the payment of wages and allowance (including festival) on the last working day before the Eid vacation starts.

Besides, denial of Eid holidays, sudden lay-off or closure of factories and workers' termination ahead of Eid are among the factors.

Rights organisations alleged that uncertainty and confusion have been created among the workers as the labour ministry is yet to fix any deadline for making the payment of wages and festival allowance.

A meeting of the crisis management core committee under the labour ministry on July 08 failed to fix any deadline for paying monthly wages and festival allowance to the garment workers.

The committee has been fixing deadlines for paying wages and festival allowance since 2013.

In the meeting, a participant from law-enforcement agencies informed that some 36 garment factories did not pay the salary for the month of May and some factories might face difficulties in paying to their workers ahead of Eid festival.

When asked, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Dr Rubana Huq said factories located in Ashulia and Savar have decided to pay festival allowance and monthly wages for the month of July by August 05 and August 10 respectively. She, however, claimed that all factories have paid wages for the month of May.

Ms Huq admitted that they have received IP list of factories and the BGMEA kept some 167 factories under its close monitoring.

The BGMEA, in a circular, has requested its members to keep holidays from August 10 to August 17 in the areas of Tongi, Pubail, Boardbazar, Gazipur Sadar, Kashimpur, Konabari, Kaliakoir, Kapasia, Mouchak, Kaliganj, Sripur, Mawna, Mirerbazar and Bhaluka.

The factories in Ashulia, Kalma, Savar, Hemayetpur, Dhamrai, Jiranibazar, BKSP, Turag and Manikganj have been requested to be closed from August 11 to August 18 as Eid holiday. If any factory authority wants, it can announce holiday before the scheduled date and factories located elsewhere can announce Eid holiday adjusting with shipment date, the notification said.

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