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April 22, 2020

Bangladesh pressures factories over unpaid wages

The Bangladesh government has warned it will take action against garment factories that do not pay their staff during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.

By Michelle Russell

The Bangladesh government has warned it will take action against garment factories that do not pay their staff during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.

Labour Ministry official, Shibnath Roy, told Reuters that businesses that do not pay staff would not receive any more money from a US$588m rescue package announced last month for the sector.

It is understood at least 350 factories have not yet paid March wages, with many of their 150,000 workers taking the streets to protest.

Roy told Reuters: “We have taken these steps to create pressure on factory owners. If they still don’t pay, we will file cases against them in the labour court.”

In a statement on 9 April, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) urged factories to ensure employees were paid March wages by 16 April.

“It is to be noted that the soft loan facilities declared by government will hopefully help factories with their wages next month, but in the meantime the factories have been requested to pay the salaries of March on their own.”

At that time, the BGMEA said around 278 member factories had disbursed wages to workers within the Dhaka Zone.

In a Facebook update yesterday (21 April), the industry body said 96.84% of workers have been paid for the month of March.

Like many other clothing export nations, Bangladesh has suffered as brands and retailers cancel and postpone orders due to lockdowns resulting in stores closing globally.

The latest BGMEA estimate suggests 1,145 factories with 2.27 million workers have seen export orders worth US$3.17bn cancelled or suspended by global retailers and brands.

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