Readymade garment factory workers at a programme in Dhaka on Tuesday said they were yet to get the newly announce minimum wage in their units. They also complained that many of them were threatened with losing jobs at workplaces for demanding lawful wages.
Rina Akter, an operator of Yolk Garments at Kakrail in the capital, said she received only Tk 7,000 including overtime for the month of December.
Even after the announcement of new wage structure for the garment workers the wages of operators in her factories increased by only Tk 250-300 and none get Tk 8,000 as minimum wage, she said.
’Although the government announced Tk 8,000 as minimum wage for the workers of seventh grade, the wages of helpers in our factory are still less than the amount. Helpers in our factory are yet to receive Tk 8,000 as their minimum wage for the month of December,’ she told the exchange of views meeting at the National Press Club on Tuesday.
Workers and Industries Protection Movement organised the meeting on the wage of RMG workers.
Rina said that when workers raise their voice to implement government announced wage, factory authorities threatened them with firing from jobs.
’Recently, I have joined a rally demanding increase in my wage. After getting the information, my bosses threatened me. I replied that joining a rally was not a crime but it was my right as you were depriving me of my lawful wage,’ she said.
’We have been in fear of losing jobs since the announcement of new wage structure as the owners tried to instil fears in us saying that any increase in wages would compel them to shut down the units,’ said China Akter a worker of Luman Fashions at Rampura in the city.
She said that workers of the factories had to stay in the factory and later started a sit-in programme in the unit on Monday night as factory owner had taken an attempt to relocate the machines at that night without paying dues to the workers.
’When we are demanding our lawful wage, factory owner threatened us. We do not care as we work for our family,’ China said. ’We are poor and many of our colleagues were threatened. We will request the government and the factory owners to stop repression against poor garment workers,’ she said.
Manzurul Ahsan Khan, convener of Workers and Industries Protection Movement said workers must get unified to establish their rights as both the factory owners and the government act against the interests of the workers.
Manzurul said that in some cases the government was more hostile to workers than the factory owners and they (The government) provided various tax benefits to the factory owners before implementing the new wage structure.
Centre for Policy Dialogue research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem said that labour unrest was taken place in the RMG sector due to lack of information and factory authorities were the responsible to inform workers about the new wage structure.
Workers should not be penalised for the irresponsibility of the factory authorities and all the cases filed against workers should be withdrawn, he said.
Harunar Rashid Bhuyan, member secretary of Workers and Industries Protection Movement, said it was not acceptable that factory owners would get tax benefits from the government repeatedly while the demand for fair wages from workers would be termed as conspiracy.
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre president Montu Gosh, Bangladesh Trade Union Sangha leader Prakash Datta and Sangjukta Sramik Federation president Mokaddem Hossain spoke at the programme.