Unpaid workers regret not being entitled to aid as 609 BGMEA factories miss deadline

A number of workers gathered outside their readymade garment factories in Dhaka on Thursday as 609 members of the industry’s lobbying group BGMEA missed the payment deadline.

Sumon Mahmudbdnews24.com
Published : 16 April 2020, 09:56 PM
Updated : 16 April 2020, 09:57 PM

“We haven’t got our wages. We aren’t entitled to relief either. Only some selected people where we stay get the aid,” Alyea, a teenaged worker who identified herself with one name, said.

She was waiting along with around 70 others in Rampura and Malibagh as the lockdown over the coronavirus outbreak continued.    

“What will we eat if we don’t get wages or relief?” she asked. She has not been paid the monthly wages of February and March.   

Another worker, ‘Sheuli’, said the income of her husband, who is an autorickshaw driver, has dried up due to the lockdown

“Now my garment factory is closed. I have come three days but they said they will inform us after Apr 26. What will we eat?” she asked.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association or BGMEA, however, claimed 1,665 of its members paid their workers within Thursday, the deadline they promised to the government following the announcement of a bailout package.
According to the association, 73 percent of its members have cleared the payments, which means 87 percent workers of the sector have got their wages.

It said 97 factories in Dhaka and 119 others in Chattogram were at the final stages of paying their workers.

“The rest of the factories will try to pay the wages between Apr 20 and 22. We will try not to drag the date to Apr 25,” BGMEA President Rubana Huq said.

Around 2.16 million of the over 2.4 million workers have been paid their wages, according to her.

Rubana claimed the workers who protested for back pay on Wednesday and Thursday were not of factories registered with the association.

She reiterated that owners of the 609 factories could not pay as the banks were operating for limited hours and the transport system was shut down.

[Additional reporting by Faysal Atik]