The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has listed a thousand of garment factories, which may be unable to clear worker’s payments before the Eid-ul-Azha festival. Most of those are small and medium size factories.
The Industrial Police authority of Bangladesh, responsible for maintaining law and order in the industrial areas of Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Chittagong, Mymensingh, estimates 300 garment factories out of total 385 factories of various industry sectors are at very high risk of non-paymnet in time.
Many garment owners failed to pay by 24th August as agreed at the 35th meeting among the Core Committee on Crisis Management of the Labour and Employment Ministry, garment owners, law enforcement and other relevant agencies.
According to garment workers, only 10 percent of the garment factories have paid till the agreed date of 24th August, according to a worker’s leader. However, Mr. Mahmud Hasan Babu, Vice President of BGMEA refused to accept claims about such low rate of payment. He said “according to my knowledge, the payment rate should be up to 50 percent.
The concerned authorities fear labour unrest in the factories fail to pay the workers in time. Meanwhile, the police have strengthened regular surveillance activities from the fear of discontent over the payment of festival bonus and other arrears.
Mansoor Khaled, head of Crisis Management Cell of BGMEA, told a Bengali newspaper that they had listed a number of factories that could have problems with wages and bonuses before Eid in Gazipur, Savar, Ashulia, Dhaka City and Narayanganj and other areas.
This list has been made so that they can be contacted with the factory owners beforehand to solve the problem. The crisis has already been resolved in many factories in this list.
BGMEA vice-president Mahmud Hasan Khan said, “We have regular contact with the owners of the listed factories before the Eid. There may be issues related to salary and bonus. In fact, due to the financial crisis, these owners can not pay salary and bonus on time. We are trying to get the pay-bonus before all the factories can solve the financial problems. But at the end of 15-20 factories there could be problems.
Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising because clothing keeps getting cheaper and factory workers are going home empty hand. Edward Hertzman, the founder of the Sourcing Journal, a trade publication, describes a bind: Owners get pressed by brands’ inspectors to upgrade factories as the same brands’ businesspeople are haggling with them to work faster and charge less. “You can’t on the one hand have lower prices and on the other hand have rising standards,” says Sarah Labowitz, a co-director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.
The full in-depth report may be available upon request from the author.