Chaity Group, a leading apparel exporter, has shut four of its units in the wake of “labour unrests” in the last couple of months. The factories are – Ashique Dress Design Ltd, Ashique Jeans Apparels Ltd, Nice Apparels Ltd and Ashique Dress Design (Printing). “All the 2,500 workers of the factories will be laid off on 8 December with November salaries,” says a closure notice signed by the group Director (administration) Brigadier General (retd) Mesbahul Alam Chowdhury.
The terminated workers will get all benefits mentioned in the labour law, including notice pay, service benefits, annual earned leave and other benefits, on 29 December from the factories, reads the notice, which has been forwarded to the public offices concerned and exporters’ association.
According to BGMEA officials, the group will have to pay Tk 18 crore in compensation to the terminated workers. Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said it will be a glaring example of disturbances by the trade union that the owner had to shutter business even after sitting on export orders.
Labour leaders said the factory closure notice is “abrupt and unacceptable”, and they will stage demonstrations against it. According to the factory authorities and workers, the “chaos” that led the factory closure comprised of an auto-promotion demand by labourers and a reported sexual harassment of a female worker.
At the factories, workers with already a three-year experience have been demanding an auto job promotion. The owners recently fulfilled the demand in the face of an increasing protest.
Meanwhile, a female worker reported sexual harassment by a cutting manager. Subsequently, a probe committee was formed that found the allegation false after analysing the closed-circuit camera (CCTV) footage. But the trade union leaders demanded termination of 39 managerial staff following the reported harassment.
BGMEA Vice-President Nasir Uddin said the group had been facing labour issues for the past two years, but the owners were “very cordial” in meeting workers’ demands. Joly Talukder, secretary of Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre, said the abrupt factory closure will portray a negative image of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector to foreign buyers. She said the termination is unacceptable.
With about US$ 175 million annual turnover and 13,500 jobs, Chaity Group has textiles, spinning, garments, accessories, restaurant and commercial development businesses.