121 workers fired, 200 sued

More factories shut, BGB deployed

Staff Correspondent | Published: 14:35, Dec 22,2016 | Updated: 00:46, Dec 22,2016

Ashulia workers' protest

Industrial police stand guard at the entrance of Windy Group garment factory in Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirts of the capital, on Wednesday. —New Age photo

At least 121 workers of a readymade garment factory at Ashulia industrial belt were terminated and over 200 workers were sued in separate cases filed for instigating labour unrest.
Apparel workers in the industrial belt have been demonstrating since December 11, demanding minimum wage of Tk 16,000.
Ashulia police said at least two cases were filed against 219 workers of two factories for vandalism, looting, threatening other workers and assaulting factory officials and police arrested two of them.
One of the cases was filed by an official of Windy Apparels Ltd accusing 21 named and 120 unnamed workers while the other was filed by an official of Fountain Garment Manufacturing Ltd against 18 named and 70 unnamed workers of the factory.
The workers, however, vowed to continue their movement until their demand was met.
The government, meanwhile, deployed several platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh in the industrial belt.
On Tuesday, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association announced closure of 55 factories in the industrial belt for an indefinite period saying that the owners were forced to shut their units due to ‘illegal’ work abstention by the workers.
Day after the announcement of the closure under section 13(1) of the labour act, the authorities of Windy Apparels Ltd hanged a notice at the factory gate with a list of 121 terminated workers.
BGMEA leaders on Wednesday told New Age that the number of factories closed under Section 13(1) of the Bangladesh Labour Act reached to 85, with demonstration taking place in other factories.
Windy Apparels Ltd management did not allow reporters into the factory and declined to make any comment.
Witnesses and workers said several platoons of BGB were deployed with other law enforcement agencies, including Rapid Action Battalion, in the area.
BGB public relations officer Mohsin Reza said 15 platoons of BGB were deployed at Ashulia Wednesday morning.
Dhaka industrial police director Mostafizur Rahman said another four more factories where shut in the morning on the day as the workers held fresh demonstrations.
‘At least 69 factories were shut amid the unrest,’ he said.
Witnesses said some agitating workers of different factories took to the streets blocking Dhaka-Tangail Highway in Nischintapur area in the morning.
Being informed, police went to the spot and brought the situation under control, they said.
Mohammad Nasir, BGMEA vice-president, said that at least 85 factories were closed due to the ‘illegal’ strike in the units where more than 2.5 lakh workers worked.
He said that the readymade garment sector would incur a production loss of Tk 70-80 crore per day due to closure of the factories.
Nasir feared the ongoing work abstention would result in air shipment and discount of products and in some cases cancelation of orders.
Rreplying to a question, the BGMEA leader said that if the workers of any closed factory would contract with the floor-in-charge of production manager and promise to return to work, the factory authorities would consider reopening the unit.
There are more than 4,000 export-oriented readymade garment factories across the country with the employment of over four million workers.
The country’s export earnings from the readymade garment exceeded $28 billion in the financial year 2015-16.

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