Partial victory for Tuba workers

THE owner of the Tuba Group, aided by the government, the apparel exporters’ group Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, broke the movement that workers of five clothing factories of the group had waged since July 28, a day before Eid-ul-Fitr that was celebrated the next day, for the payment of wages for May, June and July and the festival allowance before the movement could finish. The police and hired goons barged into the Tuba Group factory at Badda in the capital Dhaka on Thursday, as New Age reported on Friday, and drove out people, apparel workers and some political and rights group leaders, who had been on hunger strike demanding the payment of the workers.
The group owner, Delwar Hossain, pawned about 1,200 people workers of the five clothing factories, who were forced to go on hunger strike to exert pressure on the authorities to pay them their dues, including the festival allowance, for his security from the other crimes that he had committed earlier. He had been in jail since February 2014 after his arrest on surrender in the case of fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd, in which at least 112 died on November 24, 2012. What he did in securing his bail and release from jail is also unethical — he forced the workers to pass Eid starved on the factory premises at Badda, with their families, living in outlying districts remaining, in all probability, ill-fed, half-fed or starved.
After Delwar Hossain’s release from jail, while the BGMEA was disbursing wages, the police along with hired goons stormed into the factory and detained Garment Workers’ Unity Forum president Mushrefa Mishu, was leading the hunger strike, along with several other labour rights leaders. Delwar Hossain is now out of prison and it is all quiet on the factory premises. Only the workers are left uncertain about getting their festival allowance.
It was, however, a partial win on part of the workers. Many rights and civic groups and a large section of the media stood by the striking workers. They have received wages for two months and were promised the wage for July by the 10th. The movement has once again betrayed a reality: errant owners, the BGMEA and the state are not sympathetic towards the poor workers. They are  for the rich who enjoy the fruit of labour. Workers, therefore, need to unite, in a broad-based way, to win into their fold more social forces and keep up their fight until a sound industrial relation between the owners and the workers are in place.

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