100 RMG units closed, BGB deployed

70 hurt as workers clash with police, state minister assures workers of addressing problems

Rashad Ahamad | Published: 00:00, Jan 10,2019 | Updated: 01:45, Jan 10,2019


Police are in riot gear during clashes with garment workers demonstrating for wage hike in Savar industrial belt on Wednesday. — Sony Ramany

At least 70 people, including 10 law enforcers, were injured in clashes between police and apparel workers in Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka, and in Gazipur as the workers continued demonstration demanding wage hike for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday.
Thousands of workers at Ashulia, Gazipur and Uttara, defying call from the government and labour leaders to resume production, also demonstrated in the labour-intensive industrial belts to press their demand forcing closure of at least 100 units, said police.
State minister for labour and employment Monnuzan Sufian at a media briefing at Nam Bhaban on Wednesday call upon the apparel workers to resume production as the government would solve the problems, if there were any, in wage structure.
‘There may be mathematical mistakes in the new wage structure; we will solve it through discussion,’ she said.
She said that the 12-member committee formed on Tuesday would seat today to analyse the mistakes.
Monnuzan said that wage could never go down; it should go up.
She suspected that a third party might have misguided the workers through provocation to get political benefits.
She said that she was sorry for the ‘unwanted’ incident of worker’s death and other casualties in clashes in the last four days at different industrial belts.
She assured the workers that she would solve the crisis and if needed she would go even to prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president Mohammed Nasir said a tri-party meeting decided to resume production on Tuesday and urged the workers to join work as they would make necessary amendment to the wage structure but workers continued demonstration, which was unexpected.
He warned they would take their further action after discussion with the stakeholders.
‘If production halt continues we will be forced to shut factories for an indefinite period,’ he said.
Border Guards Bangladesh spokesperson Mohsin Reza said that eight platoons of BGB were deployed in the industrial belt of Savar, Ashulia and Gazipur on Wednesday.
Protesters said in November 2018, the monthly minimum gross wage of apparel workers in the seventh grade was increased to Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,300. But the wages in other grades did not increase at the same rate. They also said that the wages should be increased proportionately in all the grades without any delay.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir in a statement on Wednesday strongly condemned and protested at death of RMG worker and urged the government to fulfil the workers’ demand.
He said the incident of shooting RMG worker Suman to death during a procession on Dhaka-Aricha Highway in Savar was a reflection of prevailing anarchy in the country.
The agitating workers of Al-Muslim Group garment factories and other factories blockaded Dhaka-Aricha Highway at Ulail for three hours from 9:00am to 12:00pm until police charged baton, fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse them leaving 40 RMG workers injured, said witnesses.
Police said the workers who also demanded justice for their colleague Suman Miah, who was allegedly killed in police firing on Tuesday, also hurled stones on police turning the area into a battle field.
Superintendent of Dhaka industrial police Sana Shaminur Rahman said at least 10 police personnel also were injured in the incident on Wednesday.
He said 72 factories were forced to shut their unit for the day.
The fresh spell of labour unrest began Sunday as the apparel workers, who earn the highest foreign currency for Bangladesh, took to the streets across the industrial belts at Savar, Ashulia, Gazipur, Uttara and
At Ashulia, thousands of workers from garment factories of Ha-Meem Group, Sharmin Group, Deko Group, New Age and Knit Asia blocked Dhaka-Tangail Highway at Narashinghapur for half an hour in the morning.
Police dispersed the agitated workers from the road charging batons.
In Gazipur, at least 20 people including two journalists were injured in clashes between garment workers and police on Wednesday, reports our Gazipur correspondent.
The agitated workers from factories at Gazipura, Nawroj, Signboard, Board Bazar and Tongi held demonstrations suspending their production.
Witnesses said clashes erupted between workers and police as the police charged batons, fired tear gas shells to disperse the workers who blocked Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway.
Several hundred workers of Standard Group Garment in the capital’s Kalshi of Mirpur also abstained from their works.
The four bullet hit workers who sustained injuries on Tuesday were undergoing treatment at Enam Medical College Hospital. Over 100 workers were injured in clashes on the day.
Sumon Miah, 22, a finishing section operator of Anlima Yarn Dying Ltd at Ulail of Savar industrial belt, died from bullet wound on the left side of his chest.
Workers alleged that Sumon died in police shooting.
Workers living at Hemayetpur alleged that police raided their house at night and vandalised furniture of their house, which created panic among them.
The management of Standard Group declared closure of their unit for an indefinite period since Wednesday.
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre in a statement demanded release of its Gazipur unit president Ziaul Kabir Khokon who had been picked by police early Wednesday from his house.
GTUC, Naripokkho and other labour organisation urged the government to comply with workers’ demand soon.
Naripokkho in a statement extended support to the demand of the demonstrating workers.
Ganosamhati Andolan in a press release alleged that the killing of garment worker Sumon proved that the government was desperate to protect the interest of profit-mongering

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