Amid Covid-19 wage payment in RMG factories is an exception

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Newsnow Desk: The government instructed garment factory owners to pay their workers 65% of wages during last year’s general holidays announced to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The exceptions, however, were a few factory owners who paid full salaries to their workers, although they received loans from the government’s stimulus package for paying only 65%.

The companies that paid full salaries are – Fatullah Apparels in Narayanganj, Envoy Textile in Bhaluka of Mymensingh, Denim Expert Limited in Chattogram, and AMC Knit Composite in Gazipur.

However, there are no specific figures on how many factories paid full wages.

Nurul Amin, an operator at Fatullah Apparels, said he stayed in an area near his workplace following the government’s instructions during general holidays.

He and his family were unsure about their jobs and salaries as the factory was closed at that time.

Explaining the dire situation, he said, “The entire Narayanganj city was shut down during the general holidays. Movement was very limited. We were also confined in our house. ”

“Although my factory was closed, the company paid me a 100% salary. Our responsibility to the organisation has increased as the factory has been by my side in difficult times,” Amin continued.

“You see, even though it was a general holiday, the cost had not decreased at that time. We would have faced a difficult situation if we received only 65% of salary like workers of other companies,” he added.

Fatullah Apparels Chief Executive Officer Fazlee Shamim Ehsan said, “Despite the government’s directive to pay 65%, I thought we need to be by the side of the workers in these difficult times. So I paid 100% salaries.”

AMC Knit Composite Ltd Managing Director Shubol Chandra Shaha said, “I have been by the side of the workers for the last 30 years and there was no question of not being by their side during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even though the factory was closed till June, I paid the workers 100% salaries. We have gradually returned to full production since July last year.”

Denim Expert Ltd Managing Director Mostafiz Uddin said, “I consider the factory workers my family members. I never thought of letting them go in times of danger.”

The government declared a general holiday from 26 March, 2020 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. It allowed the factories to reopen with a limited number of workers from 24 April that year and instructed the factory owners to pay 65% salary to the rest of the workers who were on leave.

At that time, the factory owners were under pressure as the foreign buyers were continuously canceling, suspending and stopping the payment. Purchase order cancellations amounted to about $3.2 billion.

Meanwhile, the government set up a Tk5,000 crore stimulus fund to pay loans at 2% service charge to garment factory owners for paying the workers’ salaries of April, May and June in the first phase.

Later, the size of the stimulus package was increased by another Tk2,500 crore as not everyone could be paid with this money. After that, the government increased the fund by another Tk3,000 crore, However, in the last phase, the interest rate was increased to 4.5%.

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