A sit-in protest by more than 1,000 workers at the Swan Garment and Swan Jeans factories in Bangladesh has entered its second week, as they seek payment of several months’ wages and bonuses following the "sudden and illegal closure" of the factories in April.

Swan workers have been engaged in a sit-in outside the Dhaka Press Club since 11 July to demand action from the Bangladesh government, and are due to meet with the Minister of Labour later this week to discuss their demands.

Swan Garments and Swan Jeans are both owned by the Swan Group, which also own a further three factories in the Dhaka area.

The Swan Group websites lists a number of European brands as long term buyers from the Group including Lidl, Next, Bestseller, Dunnes and Walmart.

According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, workers claim they were producing for Aldi, Piazza Italia and Motivi in the months prior to closure.

The labour rights group says that after almost three decades of operating in Bangladesh it appears the Swan Group started facing difficulties in 2014, when many of its long term buyers pulled their orders and the factories began to rely on subcontracting to maintain their business.

In January 2015, it adds, the factory suddenly stopped paying salaries. The Chinese owner of Swan Group, Ming Yuen Hon (Toby), attempted to flee the country on 9 April, but was prevented from doing so by workers who confronted him at the airport and brought him back to the factory. This action forced Hon to pay one month’s salary to the workers, but on 10 April the two factories were illegally declared closed. According to his family, Hon committed suicide some time in the following weeks.

Workers have been engaged in various demonstrations since 19 April to demand their unpaid salaries and the re-opening of the factories.

In response, the Ministry of Labour and the BGMEA have been promising that steps would be taken to resolve the issue of unpaid wages, but as the Eid holiday passed workers continued to wait for their money.

"Workers have been injured by the police during our protest," says Joly Talukder, joint general secretary of the Garment Workers Trade Union Centre in Bangladesh, adding: "Workers have been continuously sitting day and night, even amidst heavy rain. The government is ignoring the protest and the state of workers and has not taken any step to meet the genuine legal demand to pay the arrears."

The problem of sudden and illegal closures of garment factories is growing in Bangladesh, in part due to changes in the industry triggered by the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.

The closures are leaving thousands of workers unemployed and deprived of their legally owed severance pay, says Samantha Maher of the Clean Clothes Campaign. To date little action has been taken by the Bangladesh government or international brands and retailers to ensure workers are not left without the wages and benefits they are owed.