'Many of us are owed at least two months' wages, along with other benefits'
An export oriented garment factory on Saturday was laid off by its owners, causing its 815 employees and staff, including 709 workers, to lose their jobs.
A notice in this regard was posted early morning on the same day outside the entrance of Sigma Fashion Ltd in Ashulia's Dhanaid area.
In the notice signed by the factory's managing director, it said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic had led to cancellation of all its export orders, which forced them to lay off the factory from April 1 until May 30, as per sections 12 and 16 of Bangladesh Labour Act 2006.
It also forced the owners to terminate the jobs of all its factory personnel as of April 18. Termination letters would also be sent to the permanent addresses of its workers and other staff, all in compliance with sections 12, 16 and 20 of Bangladesh Labour Act 2006.
The notice also mentioned the dues of all the staff would be sent to their personal accounts by May 7.
Workers of the factory expressed shock at what they considered to be a sudden decision taken by the owners.
"Many of us are owed at least two months' wages, along with other benefits. If the factory was eligible to apply for funds from the government's stimulus package, maybe this decision wouldn't have been taken," said Shova, one of the terminated workers.
Jaane Alam, assistant superintendent of Dhaka Industrial Police-1, said there were restrictions on owners not to declare any factory layoffs, but they (police) had nevertheless received information on several factory layoffs.
The police were trying to convince the owners to withdraw the layoffs, he added.
Despite repeated attempts, officials of Sigma Fashion Ltd could not be reached for comment.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Bangladesh Garment Sramik Shanghati considered Sigma Fashion's layoff as suicidal, adding it would jeopardize the lives of its workers who would not be able to seek employment elsewhere amid the government enforced countrywide shutdown.
The statement, jointly signed by its president Taslima Akhter, general secretary Julhas Nain Babu, and organizing secretary Aminul Islam Shama, urged the government to convince the factory owners not to declare any factory layoffs.