Bangladesh: 40% factories yet to pay workers

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Most of the non-paying factories are not members of the Bangladesh Garment manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

Nearly 40 percent of the garment factories, most of which are small
and not members of any trade bodies like the BGMEA or the BKMEA, are yet
to pay the workers' salaries or festival bonus although Eid-ul-Fitr is
just three days away.

Most of the 4.4 million garment workers employed in nearly 5,500
factories are scheduled to go back to their village to celebrate Eid
with their near and dear ones.

Primarily, a little more than 400 factories, whose employee count
ranges from 90 to 300, were listed as doubtful of being able to pay
their workers before Eid, said Md Nawsher Ali, director general of the
Industrial Police of Bangladesh.

Of the number, some are yet to pay either the salaries for the month of May or festival bonus, he added.

Most of the non-paying factories are not members of the Bangladesh
Garment manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear
Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

As a result, it is very difficult to make anybody responsible for
realising the payment for workers ahead of Eid, Ali said, adding that
owners of 2-3 factories in Dhaka and its adjacent areas have already
absconded.

Our Gazipur correspondent said the owner of Magnet Tex at Sreepur has
locked the gate of his factory and fled -- without paying the workers'
salaries and bonus.

Similarly, our Narayanganj correspondent said the owner of Ritika
Fashionwear at Tanbazar area has been absconding to avoid paying the
workers ahead of Eid.

Siddiqur Rahman, president of the BGMEA, assured that by June 14 all
members of the BGMEA will complete both salary and bonus payments.

“One or two factories might face trouble. We are in discourse with
those owners so that they can make the payment timely,” Rahman said.

When any member factory cannot pay the workers on time ahead of Eid,
the BGMEA mediates with banks for instant loan to pay the workers, he
added.

Mujibul Haque Chunnu, minister of labour and employment, said he will
sit with the representatives of the factory owners, union leaders and
others to discuss the issue today.

Earlier on May 29, Chunnu instructed factory owners to complete the
payment for the month of May by June 10 and festival bonus by June 14.

Sirajul Islam Rony, a union leader, said 30 percent of the factories are yet to pay the salaries to workers.

The factory owners have been delaying payment of salaries and bonus
as the workers take off for their villages as soon as receiving the
money, hampering production in factories, he said.

“Primarily, we listed 200 factories in Dhaka and its adjacent areas
that may fail to pay their workers timely. However, the number of such
factories is declining every day.” There are three categories of garment factories in terms of payment compliance in Bangladesh, according to Rony.

Under 'A' category are 1,200 garment factories that have already
cleared both the salaries and bonuses to their workers. Next up are
1,000 factories that have paid the salaries and a portion of the
bonuses.

There are 800 factories, most of which are small- and medium-sized,
which have either paid the salaries or bonus, but not both, Rony said.

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