Garment labour organistions Monday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to arrest the owners of Tazreen Fashions Ltd and Smart Export Garments Ltd.
They also threatened to besiege the Labour Directorate on February 03, if the owners are not arrested by the deadline.
They also demanded Tk 1.0 million compensation for each dead and injured worker in the fire tragedies, preparing a proper list of such workers, increasing the minimum wage of the workers, keeping main entrance of the RMG units open, and launching rationing programme for workers.
Garment Workers' Trade Union Centre (TUC), Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council, and Bangladesh Textile Garment Workers Federation announced the ultimatum from a two-hour demonstration in front of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) building in the city. About 500 garment workers and civil society representatives were present in the programme.
Mujahidul Islam Selim, president of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Khalequzzaman Bhuiyan, general secretary of Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD), and Anu Muhammad, member secretary of Bangladesh's National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, among others, spoke on the occasion.
They said over 1,000 workers died in various factory accidents so far in Bangladesh, but none was given punishment. If the government had punished the owners, responsible for those accidents, recurrence of such incidents could be avoided.
They also urged the authorities concerned to strengthen government vigilance to ensure workers' safety in all garment factories.
They said BGMEA cannot deny its responsibility, as its members are engaged in sub-contracting their orders.
Anu Muhammad criticised the government's role, saying the government is working in favour of the RMG owners, and is trying to save the owners of the two garment factories. The home minister's speech proved it.
The garment owners are making windfall profits through compromising the workers' lives. If the situation continues unabated, it will bring chaos in industrial units as well as in the national life.
He called on both the government and the BGMEA to create pressure on buyers to raise prices of imported garment products.
Mujahidul Islam Selim said when fire incidents occur in RMG units, the government tries to avoid its responsibility in the name of sabotage.
TUC president Mahmudur Rahman Ismail said they will besiege the Labour Directorate on February 03, if their demands are not met.
"If our demands are not met by the deadline, we will go for strict movement then, including hartal," he added.