Some 200 garment factories could not pay workers’ salaries and festival bonuses as of yesterday although the Eid-ul-Fitr festival is just knocking at the door, said union leaders.
Many factories are trying to clear the payments on the last working day before Eid, Md Towhidur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Apparel Workers Federation, told The Daily Star over the phone.
However, Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said some 99 per cent of factories have already paid the bonus and 97 per cent paid salaries as of yesterday.
Primarily, some 40 factories were in trouble in making the payments but through intense monitoring and consultation with the banks, the problems were solved, he said.
“Now, three to four small factories are in financial trouble and we are hopeful that the workers of those troubled factories can be paid by tomorrow [Wednesday] as the banks have already assured us,” said Hassan.
Some factories, especially the small and sub-contracting factories, are in trouble as their financial strength is not as strong as the bigger ones during this Covid-19 pandemic which jolted the global economy, including the garment supply chain, he said.
So banking support this time is very important for paying the workers of those troubled factories. Banks do not show interest in giving loans to the small factories. Moreover, many faced work order cancellations from international retailers and brands, he said.
“Hopefully all the payments would be made by tomorrow (Wednesday) as we are also working with the banks to convince them into giving loans to small factories,” Hassan added.
Regarding the holidays, he said the factory owners have been allowing extended holidays to the workers in consultation with them. The government has also agreed on extended holidays but on condition it is in consultation between workers and factory management.
Nazma Akter, president of the Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, a workers’ platform, also said more than 90 per cent of factories have paid the salary and bonus to the workers so far.
“We have been receiving phone calls and complaints from workers of different factories that they were yet to be paid,” Akter told The Daily Star.
The workers have been working amid the risk of contracting Covid-19 and during the month of fasting. So they need to be paid properly and timely, Akter said.
Many workers have been suffering on the way to their village homes because of a lack of public transports on the roads and highways, she said.
Akter demanded justice, condemning police firing rubber bullets on workers of Ha-Meem Group on May 10.
Md Nasir Uddin, inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, could not be reached by phone for comment.