Bangladesh ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan announced on a Facebook post that he has paid off the remaining dues of the employees in his aquaculture farm in Shathkhira but also said that the incidents of unrest, where employees 'took to the streets and created chaos' were instigated by 'some people with hidden agendas.' Shakib also wrote that media played its part in blowing things out of proportion by failing to look into the situation with depth and integrity.
Around 200 workers from Shakib Al Hasan Agro Farm Limited, owned by the star all-rounder, had gathered outside the farm and closed the Munshiganj-Nildumur road, claiming they were owed four months' wages on Monday. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) dispersed the gathering in line with maintaining government protocols during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
The gathered employees had claimed that dues from January to April 18th remain unpaid. Apart from that, the farm had deduced Tk300 per month from their salaries as part of a savings scheme. The workers, who have been rendered unemployed by the coronavirus crisis and are going through a tough time, said they were yet to receive either their salary or savings.
According to Shakib's partner in the farm Sahagir Hossain Pavel, they had previously announced that the labours will receive their unpaid salaries by April 30 but despite that the movement was an unexpected one. Pavel informed that they sat for a meeting on April 21 and decided to pay the due salaries from today.
"I have spoken with Shakib yesterday after that incident and we sat on a meeting today with the general manager of the farm. After the meeting we have decided to start clearing the dues from tomorrow. As our export were stopped for the past three months due to the corona virus, we did not receive any payments and that is why we were unable to pay the wages of our labours. Me along with Emdadul Haque, who was also involved in the matter, would want to apologise to our workers for that. When Shakib heard the matter, he instructed to pay the due salaries. I would also like to clear that Shakib bhai was busy recently and for that he was not involved to the matter personally. It was really an unexpected incident that took place yesterday and we are shocked and embarrassed," Pavel told The Daily Star over phone.
Shakib today said that although his response regarding the matter was late, he had paid the due salaries from his own account. He said that most employees were laid off at the end of January and only the very few that were retained, were promised their due salaries by April 30. Shakib stated that he was 'shocked to see the employees fail to wait till the end of the month' as they had agreed to.
Here is Shakib's full Facebook post:
"I would like to apologise for the late response but I wanted to gather all relevant information so that I can relay the truth to you all. Although my name is directly associated with the Agro Farm, due to my busy professional schedule, the company, like my other companies, are usually run by my co-owners/working partners. I hardly get a chance to get involved in those businesses' daily affairs or even visit the offices or premises. As you all know, I have been away from Bangladesh for most of the year as we are expecting our second child and over this period of time I was not updated with the business affairs of my Agro Farm at all and only came to find out about the employee dispute through the media. My co-owners and working partners failed to inform me properly of what was going on over the last few months but they had promised the very few employees (who were retained ) with an agreed month's salary to be paid by April 30, 2020. All of the employees were laid off by the end of January. Despite agreeing to wait till April 30, those employees surprisingly took to the streets and created chaos probably being instigated by some people with hidden agendas and ill intentions.
However, as soon as I realised there was a serious issue, I resolved the situation by taking full responsibility to pay all the due salaries from my own personal funds and without any assistance from company funds or the co-owners. In any case, I believe this was an internal affair of a company which should have remained internal. I was very shocked to see the employees fail to wait till the end of the month as they had agreed or created so much unrest. Like many others, I have been trying to gather funds for other people like them who are distressed under the current crisis so I'm confused as to why people would think I would deprive a handful of employees (and many more) of ours who have been paid regularly for over 3 years.
Unfortunately, I realised that this story was blown out of proportion by the media who failed to look the same in depth and with integrity. It would have been better if they had tried to seek the truth rather than go for sensational headlines which was partly false and mostly misleading.
I truly believe that the media have a strong role to play by verifying the truth and build their stories based on factual information or else they may end up hurting people like me for no apparent reason. They could have easily raised the issue mentioning the overall scenario and every co-owners name rather than blaming me or mentioning me only. Neither me nor anyone else deserves false accusations of this nature. I earnestly hope that the media and journalists will take more care when reporting.
As a nation, I sincerely think we have more important work to do given the current crisis and need to be vigilant and strong against any kind of misleading information and fabrication of the truth. I think we need to focus our attention on more vital topics.
Everyone please stay safe and well."