The boss of the Tuba Group is seeking a BDT300m (US$3.88m) government loan to reopen his five apparel factories, which were forced to suspend production earlier this month after workers went on strike.

Speaking at a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday (24 August), Delwar Hossain said: "I will be able to resume production in the five factories if any banks or financial institutions provide me [with a] fresh loan with [a] lower interest rate."

He added that he hoped to export US$5m worth of apparel products a month if he can resume production.

This was his first public appearance since being released on bail on 5 August. Hossain was jailed in February in a case related to the Tazreen Fashion factory fire, which killed 112 workers in November 2012. 

Earlier this month, Tuba Group workers embarked on a ten-day hunger strike to demand three months' worth of unpaid wages and benefits.

The Tuba Group owner claimed he had no option but to shut down the five units earlier this month due to a "financial crisis". But labour leaders said the closure was illegal, and that Tuba Group was trying to deprive its 1,600 workers of their legitimate benefits and compensation.

"We've already filed an appeal with a Labour Court challenging the legality of article 13(1) of the labour law," Mushrefa Mishu, convener of the Tuba Group Sramik Sangram Committee, told just-style.

Mishu, also president of Garment Workers Unity Forum, added: "We'll continue our demonstration as well as legal procedure against the Tuba Group management to ensure workers rights."

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has since disbursed more than BDT33.40m in wages and overtime to 1,417 Tuba Group workers, on behalf of Hossain. But Eid festival bonuses remain unpaid.

Click on the following link for earlier coverage of this story on just-style: BANGLADESH: Production suspended at Tuba Group factories.