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BGMEA: Garment Workers’ Withheld Wages Have Been Paid

Bangladeshi garment workers spent last week protesting over delayed wages and bonuses in order to be paid in time for the Eid-ul-Azha festival this week, but the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said all but one factory has now disbursed wages to workers.

Wages withheld right before the second largest Muslim holiday in a largely Muslim country had garment industry workers enraged. Tuba Group factory employees held their factory owner hostage for 12 hours over the weekend until he agreed to pay bonuses. Workers from Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd–the one factory still yet to disburse wages–hit the streets of Ashulia Monday blocking a highway in objection to pay that has been withheld for months.

Liberty Fashion Wears has been struggling to make wage payments after international retailers suspended orders, but BGMEA said it hopes the factory will have its wage debts settled by Monday.

Speaking at a press conference held in light of the protests at BGMEA headquarters Monday, acting president SM Mannan Kochi said wages and benefits had been held up in 15-20 factories due to financial crisis and as a result, he said, “Some nine regional committees and other monitoring cells inspected about 1,145 factories,” the Bangladesh Financial Express reported.

Both the BGMEA, the Bangladeshi government have been working to quell protests and ensure wages get paid but ensuring that thousands of factory owners comply will be a different story.

Former BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy was also present at the press conference, saying, “We hope, our workers will celebrate the holy Eid-ul-Azha in a happy mood,” according to Financial Express.