Ashulia factory closure
HC asks BGMEA, BKMEA to explain legalityStaff Correspondent
The High Court on Tuesday asked the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association to explain in four weeks why the decision of indefinitely closing 350 factories in Ashulia, in the outskirt of the capital,
should not be declared illegal.
The bench of Justice Farid Ahmed and Justice Zafar Ahmed also asked the two associations to explain why they should not be directed to withdraw the closure order issued on June 16 by them and why they should not be directed to keep the factories open, as before.
The court also directed the home secretary and department of labour director to explain why they should not be directed to take necessary steps to provide adequate protection to the factories in Ashulia Industrial Zone.
The court passed the order after hearing a public interest litigation writ petition filed by Bangladesh Textile-Garments Workers’ Federation president Mahbubur Rahman Ismail and Sammilita Garments Workers’ Federation leaders Rafiqul Islam Pothik and Baharine Sultana Bahar, challenging the legality of the decision to close the factories.
During the hearing, the court told the counsels for the petitioners to wait until today when the garments and knitwear factory owners’ associations are scheduled to hold meetings to discuss the issue.
The petitioners’ counsel Kamal Hossain argued for seeking a necessary direction on the associations to open the factories immediately as about 35 lakh workers of the factories were being financially affected seriously by the abrupt announcement of closure.
Referring to the Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act-2006, Kamal Hossain submitted that only the owners of the factories could shut down their business establishment wholly or in part due to illegal strike in the establishment, but the owners’ associations had no rights to the wholesale closure of all garments factories.
The workers were waging a movement and pursuing for a 20 per cent increase in the dearness allowance in order to ensure subsistence of workers until formation of a revised minimum wage board for the purpose of reflecting the rise in the prices of essential commodities, said Kamal Hossain.
According to Kamal Hossain, in 2010, the minimum wage of the garments workers increased to Tk 3,000 per month but no revision had been made to the wages despite the steep rise of the cost of living.
On June 16, RMG factory owners’ associations at a briefing announced to close down 350 factories at Ashulia for an indefinite period following workers’ demonstrations since June 11 demanding wage hike in the backdrop soaring prices, escalating the cost of living.
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