Readymade garment workers may get paid less than their usual salaries and the payments could be late if the factories remain closed until 5 August owing to the coronavirus lockdown, said apparel makers.
"We have been requesting the government to allow factory reopening on 1 August. Otherwise, many factories may go for labour law provisions on payments and holidays," said Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
According to the law, factory owners have to pay the previous month's salaries within the first seven working days of the next month. The law allows owners 50% payment to employees of their regular wages if factories are closed due to any unprecedented incident such as a pandemic-led lockdown.
In cases of factory closure, workers also do not qualify for overtimes, bonuses or other benefits.
Some manufacturers have already issued notices that the Eid vacation is only seven days till July 26. After that, the remaining days until 5 August will be considered general holidays if the government meantime does not allow factory reopening.
In the case of reopening after 5 August, the salary payments in the first seven working days of the month will then fall in the second week of August.
The BGMEA president said if the government allows them to reopen on 1 August, the association would request its members to consider the last four-five days of July as additional vacations to the Eid holiday.
The labour leaders said if the government does not allow factories reopening even before the 14-day virus curbs end, salary cuts and delayed payments in the name of labour law would meet with strong protests.
Nazma Akter, founder and executive director of labour organisation Awaj Foundation, said the workers were the worst victims of the 66-day general holiday last year.
"We request the government not to allow the factory owners to do the same thing again this time," she said.
Early reopening will help vaccination, ensure virus safety: BGMEA
The BGMEA president said if they can reopen the factories on 1 August, more workers would come under the Covid vaccination coverage with the on-spot factory immunisation drives that began just before the Eid.
Around 29,000 workers were vaccinated in two days under the drives before Eid.
The BGMEA president further said the factories strictly maintain virus safety measures that make the production units safer than the ancestral villages where the workers are now enjoying the Eid vacation.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan noted that they are still trying to convince the authorities about the factory reopening on 1 August.
"We have already talked to a number of ministers and secretaries to convey our message. We are very hopeful about positive feedback before 1 August," he added.
He was asked if the factories reopen on 1 August, how the workers would come to their workplaces with a transportation suspension order in place.
The BGMEA president said many workers stay adjacent to factory areas during the Eid vacations, and they would resume production with the available workers.
"The remaining workers will join later in phases," he added.