As per the government directives, Eid holidays for the workers of readymade garment (RMG) factories will be three days. But factory owners can extend the leave in consultation with the workers.
And no matter how many days' leave a worker is granted, he/she must stay at home near the workplace, Minister for Labour and Employment Mannujan Sufian said at a meeting of the Tripartite Consultative Council (TCC) on RMG, held at Shram Bhaban in the capital on Sunday.
A few labour leaders urged to increase the number of holidays, but some said that the three-day leave was justified in the context of the ongoing pandemic.
Leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that the salary of workers will be paid in 95% factories by Monday. They assured that workers' leave would be granted as per the instructions of the government.
In the government calendar, the Eid holidays are on 13-15 May, but the last two days are also the weekend.
There was unrest among RMG workers after hearing the news that the Eid holidays would be for three days only. Garment workers staged a demonstration at Mirpur in the capital on 4 May, demanding extension of Eid holidays.
They said they have already worked extra three days, which are supposed to be adjusted with the Eid holiday. Now they are not even provided with overtime allowance for the extra work they have done in these three days. These issues were raised by the labour leaders in yesterday's meeting.
After listening to everyone's opinion, Mannujan Sufian said, "I do not have the scope to give more than three days of Eid holidays. But, the government will not ask the owners why they gave five days' leave. The factory owners will be able to grant additional leave to the workers. But workers must stay near their workplaces. There is no way a worker can go home to their village."
If employers want they can extend the leave in consultation with the workers, she said.
The state minister said it would be up to the employers and workers to decide whether to allow the workers to work overtime or not.
Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Employment KM Abdus Salam said, "We have to convince the workers so that they do not go to their village homes."
Calling upon everyone not to be confused over the news that some garments have already declared 10-day Eid leave, Mohammad Hatem, first vice-president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said, "There is no work in the factories that granted a 10-day leave. We will grant leave as per the instructions of the government.
"Salaries and bonuses will be given to all factory workers before Eid."
95% of factories will pay salary by 10 May
BGMEA senior vice-president SM Mannan Kochi said more than 80% of factories have already paid the salary of workers. By Monday, 95% RMG factories will have paid the workers' salaries. The rest will be given before Eid.
Salauddin Swapon, president of the Bangladesh Revolutionary Garments Workers Federation, asked what would happen if workers do not agree with the decision of a three-day leave. He suggested increasing the leave.
Labour leader Babul Akhter said workers do not get much leave all around the year. By doing extra work in advance, they get extra leave during two Eids. He suggested imposing a strict lockdown so that no one can go to village homes.
Sirajul Islam Rony, president of the National Garment Workers and Employees League, said, "Increase the leave period. We have to make sure that they stay at home near their workplaces. Workers must be convinced about the gravity of the situation."