POST TIME: 10 January, 2019 12:19:53 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 January, 2019 10:23:40 AM
RMG unrest on despite govt pledges
Staff Reporter, Dhaka with Our Correspondent

RMG unrest on despite govt pledges

File Photo

Even after the government's assurance, readymade garment (RMG) factory workers took to the streets for the fourth consecutive day yesterday in the capital in demand of a revised minimum wage. At least 50 people were injured in separate clashes between garment workers and police in Savar, Ashulia and Gazipur district yesterday.

In Gazipur, RMG workers attacked Rafikul Islam Khan, a staff reporter of Channel 24, and vandalised his motorcycle and camera. The Gazipur correspondent of Somoy TV, Sayeed Gazi Monirul Islam, was injured during a clash between the workers and police in the Sataish area of Tongi.

Fifteen garments factories have declared a holiday yesterday. Three garments units of Standard Group have been closed indefinitely following the incident in Savar area. Eight platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel have been deployed in these areas to bring the situation under control.

A team of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) was seen patrolling different areas to fend off further trouble. A senior BGB official said the BGB troops have been kept at ready to prevent any untoward situation.

Earlier in the day, the commerce minister, Tipu Munshi, said the discrepancies in the salary structure will be resolved within one month.

“A 10-member committee has been formed to identify and resolve the problem. I’m urging the workers to return to work,” he added.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told The Independent that they will resolve the ongoing problem through discussion with labour leders. “Our law enforcers are alert to protect the garments industries,” he said.

Traffic movement on the Bypile-Abdullahpur highway remained suspended for about an hour as RMG workers put up barricades at Narsinghapur in Ashulia.

The workers also blocked the Dhaka-Aricha highway at Kalampur in Dhamrai in the morning, halting traffic movement for nearly an hour.

However, they left the place after being requested by law enforcers.

In Savar, workers from different garments factories at Ulail in Savar and Kathgara in Ashulia took to the streets with processions in demand of a wage hike.

They blockaded the Savar Bus Stand area on the highway when police went into action around 9:30am, leaving at least 22 workers and eight policemen injured.

A workers was allegedly shot dead by police. Family members and co-workers identified the dead as Sumon Mia, 22, a worker of Anlima Textile of Kornopara area in Savar.

His colleagues claimed he was not a protester,  but was caught in the clash between the law enforcers and demonstrators while on his way to work.

The authorities of Anlima Textile declared a general holiday following the incident.

In the morning, thousands of garments workers in different parts of the industrial zone took part in demonstrations, demanding immediate cancellation of the ‘discriminatory’ wage board announced by the government for them.

Industrial police sources said workers from several garments factories in Ulail and Genda areas started gathering and began demonstrations by setting tires on fire. They also hurled brick chips at their factories. On receiving  information, police went to the spots and brought the situation under control.

The workers of five factories, including Textown Garments, put up barricades on Bishmile-Jirabo Road at Kathgara in Ashulia.

Production in four factories in Ulail, Hemayetpur of Savar and Charabagh of Ashulia remained suspended since yesterday morning following the workers’ unrest.

Additional police have been deployed in Savar and Ashulia areas to avoid further trouble, said industrial police super Shana Shaminur Rahman.

The police were in discussions with garments factory owners to find out ways to restore the working environment.

In Gazipur, at least four platoons of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were deployed at different areas yesterday. The district administration deployed the BGB in Tongi, Konabari, Mowchak and Hotapara areas of the city.

Deputy commissioner of Gazipur, Dr Dewan Mohammed Humayun Kabir, confirmed the news.

Tongi west police station officer-in-charge, Emdad Hossain, said that RMG workers from different factories at Sataish area of Gazipur city blocked the Dhaka-Mymensing highway and vandalised the glass windows of some factory buildings. At the same time, workers of Diganta Sweeters in Naojure area took position on the Dhaka-Tangail highway.

As a result, vehicle movement on both highways was suspended for few hours.

On receiving information, Gazipur industrial police, highway police and metropolitan police rushed to the areas and tried to remove the workers from the highway.

Meanwhile, the new wage structure for readymade garments (RMG) workers will be implemented by this month.

The problems faced by the workers will also be resolved within this month, said commerce minister Tipu Munshi yesterday.

“I am urging the workers to have patience and return to their jobs. It’s not acceptable that they continue to vandalise factories and vehicles even after receiving assurance from us,” he added.

The commerce minister was speaking at a press briefing in the Secretariat yesterday. When asked if outsiders are instigating the movement, the minister replied: “The matter is strictly monitored by the government.”

According to the minister, action will be taken against those who have been trying to profit from the unrest.

The minister said that any discrepancy of salaries would be adjusted in current month salaries of the workers.

“Anyone involved in terrorist activities are not friends of this industry. Stern action will be taken them,” he added.