Rmg Unit Inspection
Jobless workers not getting lawful benefits
More than 12,000 garment workers who lost their job due to production suspension at 20 factories at the suggestion of Alliance and Accord, two retailers’ groups, are yet to get their termination benefits stipulated in the labour act from their respective companies. Labour leaders alleged that the owners of the garment factories were taking advantage of workers’ lack of consciousness and hapless situation and the government was protecting the interest of the owners.
Since February this year the inspection teams of Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a European Union retailers’ platform, and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, North American retailers’ platform, inspected more than 1,000 garment factories and detected serious structural faults at more than 30 factories.
The retailers’ groups sent the inspection reports to the review panel comprising representatives from the government, Accord, Alliance, BUET and BGMEA with the suggestion of immediate evacuation of the buildings.
The review panel has so far closed seven factories and suspended production at 13 others.
Of the 20 factories, six were on the list of Accord, one was on the Alliance’s list and rest of the factories faced the music as those were situated at the same risky buildings.
After the last year’s Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers, mostly women garment workers, North American apparel companies, retailers and brands formed Alliance and European Union retailers formed Accord to improve safety in Bangladeshi RMG factories.
Though the owners of the 20 factories which are located in Dhaka and Chittagong promised to give the compensations to the jobless workers as per the labour act but the workers are yet to get their legal benefits, claimed labour rights groups.
The owners of the 20 factories did not comply with the existing labour law and deprived workers from their benefits, Sirajul Islam Roni, president of Bangladesh Garment Workers Employee League, told New Age on Saturday.
He said that the retailers’ platforms that carried out inspection programmes in the country’s readymade garment factories also avoided the issue of compensation for the jobless workers.
‘Though the Alliance announced that it would pay 50 per cent of wages to workers for two months if production at any of the garment factories is suspended because of its safety inspection, Accord completely disagreed to bear the responsibility of the workers’ payment,’ Sirajul said.
Kazi Ruhul Amin, general secretary of Garment Workers Trade Union Centre, said that no owner of the closed factories paid their workers as per labour act and even the terminated workers had been forced to receive a small amount of their benefits in some cases.
‘It is the duty of the government to ensure benefits of the jobless workers but the government is protecting the factory owners’ interest,’ he said.
Ruhul said that the inspection department of the government knew that the owners of the closed factories did not comply with the labour act but the department did not take any step to protect the rights of the jobless workers.
He said that some of the workers of the closed factories received basic pay for three months, some received for two months and were deprived of all service benefits like gratuity and attendance bonus.
Moin Uddin Ahmed, managing director of Kent Garments Ltd which is located in Chittagong, said that after suspending production he provided some workers with job in his other units and the rest of the terminated workers with full benefits as per the labour act.
‘But it would not possible for the owners of all closed factories to ensure the payment of workers as per the labour act,’ he added.
Anjan Shekhar Das, managing director of RSI Apparels Ltd, said that he provided 60 per cent of the terminated workers jobs in his other units and the rest of the workers received benefits as per law.
RSI Apparels Ltd was on the Alliance’s inspection list and the retailers’ platform earlier said that the workers of the factories received wages for two months though the owner claimed that they had paid as per labour act.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Shahidullah Azim said that they had been trying to make payment to the workers through negotiations as it would not possible for the closed factory owners to pay the workers as per law.
‘Despite the production suspension owners will have to bear bank liabilities and some other cost and so owners need breathing space,’ he said.
Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment, said that the owners of the closed factories promised to pay the workers as per the labour act and they would have to do so.
‘If any factory owner does not comply with the labour act, we will take legal step against him/her,’ he said.
-With New Age input