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15 January, 2019 12:08:21 AM
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RMG workers back to work

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, Dhaka
RMG workers back to work

Normalcy returned to Bangladesh’s garments industry after revision of the wage structure amid threat of factory closure. Most of the workers joined duty with a large number of security personnel deployed yesterday. However, unrest was reported from the Dhaka-Tangail highway in Ashulia’s Jamgora around 9:00am and Dhaka-Aricha highway in Amin Bazar areas as readymade garment workers tried to put up a blockade, but the police foiled their attempt.

Commerce minister Tipu Munshi said discipline returned to the RMG sector after workers joined their respective factories. He also said the government will pay Tk 1 lakh as compensation to the relatives of those killed in the current movement. “One hundred per cent production has resumed in Tongi and Gazipur areas, as all RMG workers have joined their duty,” the minister told reporters at the Secretariat yesterday.

When asked about vandalism, the minister replied: “It is unfortunate that factories or vehicles in the street are vandalised in the name of movement. Any movement can be waged in a systematic way avoiding violence. So, those involved in vandalism should be brought under trial and a decision is needed in this regard too.”

Workers of as many as 30 factories in Amin Bazar, Ashulia, Jamgora, Beron and Narsinghapur areas tried to block the Dhaka-Tangail highway and the Dhaka-Aricha highway after leaving their workplaces around 9am.

When the commerce minister’s attention was drawn to this, he said: “I heard that RMG workers of some 30 factories left their work places after punching their cards, and tried to stage a demonstration on the street. But the industrial police removed them from the street.”

The minister believes that RMG workers will accept the new wage

structure that was announced as per the Prime Minister’s directives and they will join work.

Normalcy returned to the areas as the agitators were removed from the roads, said Sana Saminur Rahman, superintendent of industrial police (SP) in Dhaka-1.

Additional policemen were deployed in the areas to avoid any untoward incident, he added.

The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) said yesterday that they will shut down the factories as per the factories and labour acts if RMG workers continue their movement, ignoring the new wage structure.

“The coordination committee on wage structure’s announced decision is final. We have nothing to say as the government announced the new wage structure for the RMG workers,” BGMEA’s vice-president Mohammad Nasir said.  

When asked about yesterday’s agitation, he said: “We won’t discuss the issue further with the workers. Our final decision is ‘no work no pay’.”

Many RMG workers are yet to know about the government’s decision on their new wage structure, Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, president of the Textile Garment Sramik Federation, told this correspondent.

He said: “The workers are trying to stage a demonstration without knowing that their demands have been met. Now, the factory owners and workers’ organisations will have to inform the workers that the issue has been resolved.”

The matter will be fully normal within one or two days, he hoped.

As reported, there were workers of at least 30 factories, including the Hamim Group, Sharmin Group and the Envoy Group, in the agitation. Industrial police removed them during initial attempts.

The workers were saying that their basic salary was not raised as expected.

The authorities shut the factories down following the workers’ agitation yesterday.

Workers of other factories in the area joined duty this morning. Additional police personnel were deployed in front of the factories to avert any untoward situation.

At least five garment workers were injured in a clash with the police as they staged demonstrations here yesterday, rejecting the revised wage structure.

Several thousand workers started a demonstration on the Dhaka-Tangail highway in the Narsinghopur area of Ashulia and Amin Bazar areas and tried to put up a barricade.

Later, a chase and counter-chase took place between RMG workers and the police. The workers also vandalised several vehicles, including a vehicle of the city corporation carrying garbage, in the Aminbazar Turag area.

Witnesses said a vehicle carrying garments workers and a city corporation vehicle hit each other in the morning, leading to an altercation.

At one stage of the altercation, a city corporation employee hit a female garments worker, leaving her injured. Angered by the incident, her co-workers put up a barricade on the highway, disrupting vehicular movement for two and a half hours. Later, the police brought the situation under control.

Abdul Awwal, officer-in-charge (OC) of Savar police station, confirmed the matter. He said the police brought the situation under control by dispersing the protesters at about 11am.

“Traffic at the vital intersection of Dhaka in the Gabtoli area slowly began moving after the dispersing,” he added.

The government, on Sunday, revised the RMG workers’ salary structure grade-wise following their weeklong protests.

The commerce minister said the revised wage structure will be effective retrospectively from December 2018 and would be re-adjusted with their salaries from February onwards.

MK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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