Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Thursday refuted the statement of three labour organisations, terming it as “incorrect allegations” and “falsehoods” for tarnishing image of country’s apparel industry both home and abroad reports BSS.
BGMEA said it is their utmost concern that the labor organisations -BGIWF, BIGUF and BCWS, who are considered as the frontiers in labor movement, have issued such a false, misleading and provocative statement which may lead to “ignite the hatred among the workers causing distance with the industry, which is contrary to what these organisations stand for”.
The prime platform of the apparel industry in a clarification statement said BGMEA does not have any legal authority to close down any factory, “but can only appeal to its members to do so which we did. As per the laws of the land, only the factory authority or the government has the legal entitlement to declare a factory closed.”
It said their (organisations) statement never recognised the fact that BGMEA has appealed to its member factories to close down except the ones, which is engaged in urgent shipments and producing PPEs.
As the COVID-19 contamination was aggravating in Bangladesh, State Minister for Labor and Employment in reply to the appeal of BGMEA held a meeting on March 21 where representatives from FBCCI, BEF, BGMEA and BKMEA attended, and the consensus of the meeting was that RMG factories will remain open.
On March 22, in another meeting, where representatives of all recognised labor federations and organisations were present, it was decided that factories will remain open.
“Therefore, the accusation that these labor organisations are brining against us is unjustified, since they were consulted while taking the decision,” went on BGMEA.
“When we noticed that the workers are rushing back to Dhaka prior to factory opening, we immediately talked to authorities and announced the extension of factory closure to avoid further risk of contamination caused by the unexpected movements of labor. So, clearly the reason behind extension of the closure was to contain spread and contamination of the virus,” added BGMEA in the statement.
It said their (labour organisations) statement riddled with self-contradictory and mentioned why factories were declared open from 5 April pointing out that workers were in fear of being terminated if they do not return and intention of the factories to delay or suspend payment of March salary. “We condemn such position of these federations, and request appropriate authorities to look into the matter if any ill motive persists to derail the workers.”
The federations said they demand withdrawal of illegal lay-off (by factories) and urged to consider the days in lay-off as “general leave” with full wages for those days. BGMEA said “the complaint and the demand in this statement are illegal itself” referring the section-12 of Bangladesh Labor Act 2006.
Regarding the allegations of salary for March, BGMEA said “we find such statement of them (labor organizations) quite outrageous and highly provocative.”
If there is any specific instance of such happening, BGMEA requested the labor federations to inform them with facts and evidences. “BGMEA stands committed to ensure the legitimate rights of the workers.”
Regarding retrenchment of workers, BGEMA said “We have made it clear to all our member factories and requested them not to retrench any worker. However, we would request the labor federations to inform BGMEA if they come across any illegal retrenchment incident.”