Though workers from Rana Plaza were asked to collect wages yesterday, over a thousand employees of the five garment factories located in the collapsed building returned empty-handed after waiting all day.
Amena Begum, one of the workers waiting there, told the Dhaka Tribune around 5:30pm, “We were asked to report within 3pm to collect our wages, we came, but the authorities did not pay our wages.”
The survivors, mostly women, want the BGMEA to pay four months’ wages, but the garment manufacturers’ association refused to do so yesterday evening, claiming they were not ready to pay that amount. They informed workers the BGMEA needs two more days to reach a decision in this regard.
According to labour laws, workers must be paid three months and 13 days wages if a factory is shut. The workers from Rana Plaza are therefore due four months and 13 days wages, including April’s salary.
Chairman of BGMEA’s standing committee of labour education and welfare Md Abdul Ahad Ansari said: “We will pay the wages after a meeting tomorrow [today] with all stakeholders, when we will decide how many months’ salary will be paid.”
He claimed “outsiders” who were not employed in the factories are demanding payment. However, the Dhaka Tribune found no evidence the allegations were true.
Workers’ representatives were asked to travel to Dhaka under police protection to receive payment, and the amount would be decided at a tripartite meeting. The workers, however, refused to go to Dhaka and demanded they are paid in Savar instead.
Workers began demonstrating around 11am in front of Razzak Plaza in Savar demanding payment of dues. BGMEA officials using megaphones asked the employees of the five factories to come to a designated spot near Savar Cantonment by 3pm to be paid.
The workers of the five garment factories started to gather at the designated place after 2pm.
Around 3pm, Ansari told reporters the BGMEA would pay wages due as well as allowances for those who survived and the deceased as per law. He claimed that they have a list 3,617 workers from the five factories. He confirmed BGMEA officials would pay salaries of those injured at the hospitals where they are being treated.
Asked about “missing” workers, he said a list would be prepared as soon as rescue operations came to an end last night. Adding, “Then we can confirm the number of missing.”
A senior army officer however refuted Ansari’s claim salvage operations would end last night.
At 5:30pm workers were seen still waiting with identity cards to receive their salaries.