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Dhaka Tribune

65 Bangladeshi garment workers in Mauritius spending days without food and shelter

A total of 180 garment workers, including 65 Bangladeshis, were working at the factory

Update : 23 Jul 2019, 08:58 PM

Around 65 Bangladeshi garment workers, employed in Mauritius, were deprived of work and salaries for more than three months, and have been spending days without food and shelter.

According to sources, Tex Knits Garment, a ready-made garment factory in Mauritius, did not pay salaries to 180 workers– including 65 Bangladesh workers – for two months, giving the excuse of lack of work orders.

Rasel Ahmed, an employee of Tex Knits Garment, told Dhaka Tribune over phone that they used to live in the company’s dormitories, but company authorities had cut off the electricity, and water supply lines, two weeks ago.

A total of 180 garment workers, including 65 Bangladeshis, were working at the factory.

The workers met with the local authorities several times. Local authorities assured them that they would solve the matter, but the workers are yet to receive any payment.

Rasel, a resident of Munshiganj, left Bangladesh around three and a half years ago, and has been working in Tex Knit Garment ever since.

Rasel alleged that he along with other workers met with Md Ohidul Islam, First Secretary (labour) of Bangladesh High Commission of Mauritius, and urged him to take necessary steps to solve their problems.

Though Ohidul Islam assured them of taking steps in this regard, the high commission did not come forward to help, alleged Rasel.

Rasel said: “We came here to earn money so that our families can lead a good life, but now we are out of work, and food. How will we send money to our families?”

He further lamented: “If Bangladesh High Commission cannot solve the problem, then please send us home, we do not want to die here without food, and shelter.’’

An official of Tex Knits Garment, who was with the workers while Rasel was talking with Dhaka Tribune, wishing anonymity, told that factory authorities promised to give half a month’s salary within a week, and the other half later.

However, he declined to comment about salary payments of other overdue months.

Meanwhile, after hearing about the sufferings of the Bangladeshi workers, Al Ihsaan Islamic Foundation (Shakeel Anaruth), a local charity, provided them with food, and other necessary items. Also Young Star Expatriate Welfare Association, an online foundation of Bangladeshi expatriates, provided food to the workers.

When contacted, Mohammad Hafiz, president of Young Star Expatriate Welfare Association, said that the Bangladeshi workers have been in a dire condition for a long time as their company failed to pay their salary.

“All the workers entered Mauritius as garment workers. Although there is no work for them in their appointed factory, they cannot work outside, as it is illegal for them,” said Hafiz.

Hafiz also claimed that Bangladesh High Commission should have taken proactive steps to solve the problems, but they did not take any necessary step on behalf of Bangladeshi workers.

Hafiz also alleged that Bangladeshi workers are usually deprived of their rights at workplaces, including lower wage payment, compelled to work overtime without pay, provided with inadequate food, and shabby rooms to live in at destination countries.

“Bangladeshi workers also have been deprived of legal support, health care, and occupational safety,” said Hafiz, also a graphic artist of a French-language newspaper in Mauritius.

Dhaka Tribune has tried to contact Bangladesh High Commission several times, but could not contact with High Commissioner Rezina Ahmed.

Dhaka Tribune also failed to contact First Secretary (Labour) Md Ohidul Islam, as he is on a leave.

Md Masud-Bin-Rashid, office assistant of the First Secretary, told this reporter to contact at a later time to get the comment of the first secretary or the high commissioner.

Other officials of the Bangladesh High Commission declined to comment over the issue.

Dhaka Tribune could not reach Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad over the phone or by texts.

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