RMG sector braces for fresh unrest

Non-payment of salaries and dues, non-implementation of the new minimum wages, and lack of compliance may spark a fresh bout of outburst in the country’s ready-made garments industry (RMG) sector, fear intelligence agencies.

Sources said until mid-March, at least 101 factories in the city did not pay wages resulting in 43 incidents of unrest by workers. They blocked roads, damaged vehicles and factory establishments during the agitation.

According to the statistics available at BGMEA and BKMEA, at least 20 per cent of the factories are yet to implement the newly announced minimum wages. It has led the workers in the city to take to the streets at least 11 times during the last one and a half months.

The conflict over rate per piece at the sweater factories has forced the garment workers to go for agitation more than 20 times during the period, an intelligence report reveals. Each month the disagreement over piece rate results in over 50 per cent of labour unrest incidents, it added.

The Special Branch of police last week submitted a report in this connection to labour and employment minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain.

During the period mentioned, at least 11 incidents of labour unrest took place due to factory closure and dismissal from jobs.

Sources said out of 3,300 running factories of BGMEA and 584 factories of BKMEA, 932 belonging to BGMEA and 226 belonging to BKMEA have so far formed participation committees. The committees, comprising both workers and owners, look after the problems of workers in absence of trade unions. The government is yet to allow trade unionism in the apparel industry, sources said.

The intelligence report has suggested formulation of a crisis management policy, requesting factory owners to pay wages on time, view-exchange meeting between workers and owners every month and keeping some labour leaders under watch to avert tension and possible outbursts.

Talking to the FE Sunday, BKMEA president AKM Salim Osman said the compliance cell of his association resolves crises of non-payment of wages within 24 hours of getting a complaint.

“Once being informed by labour leaders, we do give the factory owners some days to settle the dispute or sometimes we arrange on-the-spot payment of dues to the workers,” he said.

When contacted, BGMEA vice president Siddiqur Rahman said some small factories fail to pay wages on time. “There is no complaint against the big factories that are considered as compliant ones,” he said.


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