Individual RMG factories can decide to extend or not extend Eid holiday, says Monnujan
State Minister for Labour Begum Monnujan Sufian on Sunday said that apparel factory owners must clear workers wages and other festival allowances by Monday, so that workers could enjoy Eid-ul-Fitr.
After an intensive meeting over Eid holidays for RMG workers between the Ministry of Labour, RMG manufacturers, and the labour unions, it has been decided each individual factory will be able to decide on extended Eid holidays and not a general directive by BGMEA itself.
The decision, taken on Sunday, comes after protests on Saturday by garment workers where they demanded an extension of Eid holidays and payment of wages and bonuses, as many took to the streets in the Mirpur area of the capital.
State Minister for Labour Begum Monnujan Sufian, Labour Secretary KM Abdus Salam, leaders of labor unions, and representatives of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) were present at the emergency meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, State Minister Sufian said the Eid holiday for all offices will remain three days but if RMG workers want to take leaves, the owners and workers will decide it at the factory level.
However, the state minister instructed workers to stay in their respective workplaces during the holidays.
She also told the RMG owners to pay wages, bonuses, and all allowances by Monday.
SM Mannan Kochi, senior vice-president of BGMEA, said that nearly 79% of RMG factories had paid the wages and bonuses as of Sunday.
“There are a few factories that remain unable to pay wages every year. We monitor it. The main topic of today’s meeting was about an extension of holidays. As the situation is not normal, we have to follow the government’s directives,” he added.
“As per the direction of the ministry, we urge factories to pay the workers for the extra work they have done. And regarding the extension of holidays, we urge both workers and the factories to follow the directives of today’s meeting,” he also said.
Salauddin Swapan, acting president of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), said that people of all professions get holidays at different times of the year.
“But for garment workers, things are very different. They get no other holidays in the year except Eid,” he said.
“It is difficult to persuade the workers in this regard. But people from all stages are going home anyway. Even though it is a strict lockdown, people are no longer staying put. There are people everywhere on the streets, at the ferry docks, at the launch docks. In this case, our workers will also want to return home. Even then we did not disobey the government decision,” he added.
“According to the meeting, the decision will be at the factory level. Workers can extend leaves by talking to their respective factories. However, instructions have been given by the Ministry of Labour for workers to stay in their respective workplaces. It remains to be seen how much the workers will comply with it,” he also said.
However, BGMEA has urged garment workers to stay at their respective workplaces during the Eid holidays.
BGMEA said that to prevent a surge of Covid-19 infections and ensure social distancing, the government has instructed everyone to stay in their work areas. The organization has requested its members to implement these government directives.
Earlier, the labour ministry instructed apparel factory owners to finish paying their workers' salaries and Eid bonus by Monday.