55 clothing plants shut in Bangladesh amid standoff with workers
Staff Correspondent bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-20 18:49:04.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-21 02:06:30.0 BdST
Over 50 readymade garment factory owners have declared their manufacturing plants shut after the workers walked out of the factories demanding higher wages and benefits.
The owners’ lobby, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), says 55 factory owners decided to keep the factory doors closed after the workers walked out, with pay cut, until they resume work.
BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman told reporters at a press conference at Karwan Bazar on Tuesday that “the factory owners have been forced to take the measure under Section-13 (1) of the Labour Act”.
“Our members had no other option but to shut the factories indefinitely,” he said.
The workers have been continuing protests for eight days despite assurance from the government of a negotiated settlement.
The BGMEA decision has further complicated matters.
Earlier, State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu also threatened legal action if the workers did not return to the factories.
Thousands of garment workers have been agitating for a pay rise, for a moratorium on house rent, and against the ‘unusual’ retrenchment of workers.
Earlier, on Monday, Commerce Minster Tofail Ahmed, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan and State Minister Chunnu held a meeting with the leaders of of a federation of 42 workers’ organisations in an attempt to resolve the issue.
The BGMEA chief said though the issues were settled at the meeting, the workers declined to resume work on Tuesday.
“They swiped their card at the factory gate and left the premises,” he said. “That’s why the owners have decided to shut their factories, and as a result, the workers will not get their pay during the absence from work.”
He said as per the law, pay revision should take place every five years.
“We adjusted the workers’ salary just three years ago, we will revise it after two years,” he added.
He asked the government to investigate if the agitation is politically induced or any other motive is behind the strike.
Siddiqur said, “India is providing huge subsidies in their garment sector. They want to take the market away from us. They already have announced it.”
“If the unrest continues in the factories, we will miss the consignment deadline and eventually lose the business to other competitors,” he added.
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