Tuba factories’ closure notice under scanner

Staff Correspondent

The labour ministry has taken an initiative to look into the closure notice of Tuba Group factories under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act to see whether the Section is applicable for the factories.
The Section stipulated that ‘the employer may, in the event of an illegal strike by any section or department of any establishment, close down either wholly or partly, such section or department and the workers who participated in the illegal strike shall not be paid any wages for such closure.’
Ministry officials said that the Department of Inspection of the Factories and Establishments would scrutinise the legal aspect of the closure as there was an allegation that Tuba Group’s the owner Delwar Hossain closed the factories under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act to deny the rights of the workers.
The Labour secretary, Mikail Shipar, has already asked the inspector general of the DIFE to look into the matter, source said.
Tuba Group authorities on August 18 posted the closure notice on the gates of the factories stating that the factories were closed with effect from June 11 under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act.
Labour leaders termed the closure notice of the factories illegal and said that the workers of Tuba Group went on fast unto death the day before Eid-ul-Fitr demanding arrears of their wages for three months and allowances but any destructive work had not taken place during their movements.
The peaceful protest programme of the workers for their dues was not illegal as in his closure notice Delwar admitted that he failed to pay the workers in time and so the Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act was not applicable in this regard, they said.
The issue was also discussed in the meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on ministry of labour and employment on August 19 and one of the members of the committee demanded to examine the legal aspects of the closure of the factories.
Meeting sources said that Israfil Alam, member of the committee, in the meeting said that Section 13(1) was not applicable to the factories of Tuba group and the government will have to look into the matter whether the owners used the section intentionally to deprive the workers.
As per direction of the meeting, the labour secretary asked the DIFE to scrutinise the legality of the closure notice of Tuba Group factories under section 13(1) of the labour act.
Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the DIFE, told New Age on Thursday that they will start work on it on Sunday and would consult with labour law experts.
Owners have rights to close their units but they will have to comply with the laws related to the closure of the factories so that workers are not deprived, he said.
‘If the owners are not interested to run their units they can close down after ensuring lawful compensation to the workers,’ Amirul Haque, president of National Garment Workers’ Federation, said.
The closure notice of Tuba Groups factories under section 13(1) of the labour act was nothing but an attempt to deny the rights of the workers, he alleged.
The workers of five apparel factories of Tuba Group went on fast unto death the day before Eid-ul Fitr for arrears of their wages for three months and allowances.
After 11 days, the workers were paid partial arrear wages and no festival allowance under arrangement of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Delwar Hossain, is also the owner of Tazreen Fashions Ltd, where at least 117 workers were killed in a fire accident in November 2012.
He had been in jail since February as the police had pressed charges against him for culpable homicide by negligence. He was released on bail on August 5.



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