Payments to RMG workers before Eid become uncertain

Payment of wages and allowances by most readymade garment (RMG) units has become uncertain mainly due to non-availability of loans against export LCs (letters of credit) from banks, industry insiders said.

According to the information of crisis cells of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knit Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), workers’ payment of over one thousand and three hundred garment units has become uncertain which may trigger labour unrest before the Eid-ul-Fitr.

A high profile meeting was held in this regard at the BGMEA Bhaban last weak where State Minister for Labour and Employment, Begum Monnojan Sufian, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee, Ministry of labour & Employment, Israfil Alam, MP, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Shafique Alam Mehdi, Presidents of BGMEA and BKMEA, Police Commissioner, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Benazir Ahmed and some other high officials of law enforcing agencies and leaders of different workers unions were present.

Managing Director of a leading knit composite factory said, preferring anonymity, “I have placed a demand of liquidity support to the bank against export LCs which I do usually, but the bank proposed to pay a lump sum amount showing liquidity crisis of the bank.”

“Now I am trying to borrow the amount from alternative sources, but not sure whether I will be able to arrange the full amount or not,” the factory owner said.

“We are trying to make all garment owners succeed in paying wages and allowances to their workers,” President of BGMEA Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told the FE Sunday.

Mr Mohiuddin said, “It is our moral responsibility to pay the workers’ wages and allowances before the Eid. If any garment unit fails to make the payment due to a genuine reason, then all the parties should come to a mutual solution rather than making workers unrest.”

He however, also said, “We have met the high-ups of Bangladesh Bank and commerce ministry regarding the liquidity crisis of banks and got assurance of all sorts of support from them.”

President of BKMEA Salim Osman said, “We have urged the government and the banks for financial support to the garment owners as they have to make three payments in a month which is really tough for the factory owners.”

Mr Osman also said, “As the demands of the workers are very much logical, we have also suggested all the garment owners to pay the workers’ wages and allowances any how to avoid further unrest in the industry.”

Delwar Hossain, President of Jano Sadhin Garment Workers Federation, said. “We have urged the government and the leaders of BGMEA and BKMEA to find out the sensitive units and provide financial assistances before occurrence of any untoward incident. If the authority fails to solve problems, we shall give all types of moral support to the workers’ move.”

Mr Hossain also said, “Owners of the garment factories have made profit round the year, so we cannot accept any lame excuse regarding the workers’ payment.”

He, however, suggested the garment owners to sit with workers to discuss about the problems and reach a solution.

“If any owner tries to resolve the crisis with the help of law enforcing agencies, then we will not accept it easily.” Hossain added.

President of National Garment Workers Federation, Amirul Islam Amin said, “If the owners fail to arrange money to make the workers’ payment, it might help the victims draw the moral support from workers of other factories which may trigger workers’ unrest.”

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