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Bangladesh: Tuba Group Workers Threaten “Tougher Movement” Over Unpaid Wages

Bangladesh’s newly formed Tuba Group Workers’ Movement Committee has threatened “tougher movement” if workers from the shuttered Tuba Group factories aren’t paid their owed wages within 24 hours, the group announced Monday.

Garment workers from the group’s five factories including, Tuba Fashion, Tuba Textile, Mita Design, Taif Design and Bughsan Garments, have been battling to get paid for the last couple of months, as Tuba Group’s managing director Delwar Hossain failed to pay three months worth of wages and holiday bonuses.

Hossain, who also owns the Tazreen Fashions Ltd factory where a 2012 fire killed more than 100 workers, said he wasn’t able to pay the wages while in jail on charges related to the fire. The unpaid salaries accrued and workers launched several protests, including one 11-day hunger strike, and the general unrest led retailers to begin pulling their orders. Hossain was forced to halt operations at the five factories, and production has yet to resume. Last month, Hossain asked the government for 300 million taka ($3.88 million) in soft loans to facilitate reopening the factories.

BGMEA stepped in to disburse some of the wages owed in August, but workers are still seeking pay for two month’s work plus festival allowances.

According to Bangladesh’s Financial Express, Monday’s warning came as workers from the five out-of-commission factories staged a demonstration outside of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) headquarters in Dhaka.

The Workers’ Movement Committee coordinator, Moshrefa Mishu said, “The Tuba Group workers must be paid their dues and festival allowances within 24 hours. If not, we will go for tougher movement,” the Financial Express reported.

Mishu said Tuba Group authorities have been keeping the units closed illegally, and not in accordance with the law, and added that the company needs to pay the workers accordingly.

Hossain said late last month that he would resume production in the five units soon, but did not disclose a date.