RMG exporters to complete salary disbursement by April 16
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday asked garment exporters to close down all their factory units, barring those involved in making personal protection equipment (PPE) and masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
She gave the directive while chairing the weekly cabinet meeting at Ganabhaban.
Hasina came down heavily on Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Exporters Association of Bangladesh President Abdus Salam Murshedy and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq for their attempt to resume factory operation flouting social distancing guidelines meant to stamp out the coronavirus outbreak, meeting sources said.
Meanwhile, BGMEA decided to pay wages to their apparel workers and employees for the last month by April 12 as the association undertook initiatives to release funds from the bailout package.
The association leaders also talked to Bangladesh Bank (BB) officials concerned to increase banking hours to facilitate salary payments through banks to millions of low-paid apparel workers.
Workers staying adjacent to factory areas will get wages between April 7 and April 12, while those others staying at their home villages will get their salaries after the opening of factories after April 14.
“We have already talked to BB to increase banking hours by one hour so that the apparel workers can get paid without hassles,” BGMEA Director Arshad Jamal Dipu told Dhaka Tribune.
"Our move is aimed at paying workers’ wages between April 7 and April 12. Apparel workers and employees who are living adjoining areas of factories would be served first," said Dipu.
Meanwhile, a joint press statement signed by BGMA President Rubana Huq and BKMEA President AKM Salim Osman at 9pm urged their members to complete salary disbursement of their workers for the last month by April 16 at the latest.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a bailout package of TK5,000 crore for the workers and employees involved in the export- oriented sector being hard hit by the pandemic coronavirus.
Dipu claimed that around 30% factory owners who closed their factories had already paid wages of their workers for the month of March.
According to BGMEA data, there are 4,621 apparel factories in the country. However, the number of active RMG units is only 2,300, out of the total.
Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) has another 850 active factories employing nearly 1.2 million people.
Meanwhile, nearly 100 apparel factories suspended production due to a shortage of work orders during the coronavirus pandemic, industry sources said.
Workers of the factories, numbering over 100,000 in total, will still be paid as per Section 16 (1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2013.
According to Section 12 of the Labour Act, an employer may, at any time, if necessary in the event of fire, sudden catastrophe or epidemics, stop any section or sections of his establishment, wholly or partly, for such period as the cause for such stoppage continues to exist.
If the stoppage lasts more than three days, workers have to be paid under Section 16 (1) of the Labour Act.
As per Section 16 (1), workers are entitled to 50% of basic wages and the full amount of housing allowance in the first 45 days of the suspension period. After the first 45 days, workers are entitled to 25% of basic wages and the full amount of housing allowance.
The BGMEA has said about 90 factories suspended production, while about 10 members of BKMEA have also suspended operations.