Around 40,000 workers have already been laid off since March 26, amid the Covid-19 crisis
Garment workers have blocked the road in Mohakhali’s Amtoli demanding their wages and dues.
The workers started protesting on the streets of Mohakhali-Banani road around 10am on Saturday.
All kinds of vehicles on the roads came to a standstill at the time in the area.
Banani police station Officer-In-Charge Nur-e-Azam Miah said: “Workers of a garment factory have blocked the Mohakhali-Banani road demanding clearance of their wages and dues. Police are trying to calm them down.”
Earlier, there was a meeting between the owners of the garment factory, Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and other parties concerned about clearing the wages; however no decision came out from it. Later today (Saturday), the workers took to the streets, the OC said.
The factory authorities also assured the workers that their dues will be soon cleared.
According to the agitated workers, many of them did not get wages for one to two months.
Although BGMEA has assured that all the workers will get their wages for the month of April by May 20, leaders of garment workers have expressed doubt over it saying the owners are yet to complete the process to receive loan from the stimulus package announced by the government.
On Friday, Faisal Samad, senior vice-president of BGMEA, the apex body of the country’s garment sector, said workers of garment factories have started receiving wages for April from May 7.
"Hopefully, we will be able to complete the wage disbursement by May 20,” he added.
The owners have already started the process to avail assistance from the stimulus package announced for the export-oriented industries to pay wages and allowances to the workers, Faisal further commented.
The government previously announced a Tk5,000 crore stimulus package for the export-oriented industries in this regard.
Joly Talukder, general secretary of Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendro, said she is doubtful about the commitment the BGMEA leaders made over the payment of wages by May 20.
Referring to the May 14 tripartite meeting with BGMEA leaders, union leaders and government representatives, Joly said BGMEA President Dr Rubana Huq informed the meeting that many owners were yet to start the process to get the soft loan from the stimulus package.
“Around 500 owners are yet to complete the process. How will they pay the wages for the last month by May 20?” she was quoted as saying.
If the authorities concerned do not pressure the RMG factory owners, they will not pay the wages before Eid, Joly remarked.
Regarding the garment factory owners’ decision not to retrench workers until Eid-ul-Fitr, Joly informed that around 40,000 workers have already been laid off since March 26.
Workers in the labour-intensive garment sector are at high risk of coronavirus infection since they work in close proximity to each other, according to health experts. A number of RMG workers have already been diagnosed with Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has so far reported 298 deaths and 20,065 coronavirus cases till Friday.