Jute mill workers rally for dues, pay hike

24-hour strike today, authorities warn against demos

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:24, Dec 03,2019

 
 

Workers of government-owned jute mills bring out a procession in the Khulna city on Monday demanding unpaid wages. — New Age photo

Workers of 24 out of 26 state-owned jute mills on Monday rallied in the mill areas blocking roads at places in support of their 24-hour strike on Tuesday to press their 11-point demands including payment of dues and implementation of new wage structure.

Workers in Khulna, Jashore, Chattogram, Rajshahi and Narsingdi under the banner of CBA-non-CBA Sangram Parishad along with Employees’ Unions staged their demonstrations as a part of their centrally declared countrywide programmes.

At the end of the processions, leaders of CBA-non-CBA Sangram Parishad read out a letter issued by the mill project heads to the presidents and general secretaries of respective mill employees’ unions asking them to take necessary steps not to hold their agitation programmes further.

The letters informed that the government had already allocated money for paying due wages and salaries and warned that if the agitation programmes were observed, the money might not be allocated for the mills.

‘It is unprecedented. During previous movements, we never received such a letter. They were not paying our deserved money, rather they are threatening us,’ UMC Jute Mills Employees Union president Shafiqul Islam Molla told New Age.

He said the workers vowed to enforce the strike to realise their demands. 

Platinum Jubilee Jute Mills’ project head Golam Rabbani told New Age they issued the letter to the employees union as per direction from Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation. He said no money was allocated so far to pay the workers’ dues.

Demonstrators said they were not getting their wages for 10 to 12 weeks and the government was yet to implement the National Wage and Productivity Commission Award 2015 though they, in a tripartite agreement signed on April 15, assured to implement the commission award by May 15.

Their demands include adequate budgetary allocation for the jute sector and buying adequate jute on season, payment of the outstanding provident fund and gratuity to retired workers and settlement insurance benefits to the families of the deceased workers, recruitment of workers, regularisation of temporary workers, reinstatement of sacked workers, and balancing, modernising, rehabilitating and expanding jute mills for better productivity.

The New Age correspondent in Khulna reported several thousand workers of nine state-owned jute mills of Khulna and Jashore brought out processions from their respective mill gates at 10:00am.

Workers of Khalishpur Jute Mills, Daulatpur Jute Mills, Crescent Jute Mills, Platinum Jubilee Jute Mills, Star Jute Mills, Alim Jute Mills and Eastern Jute Mills of Khulna and Carpeting Jute Mills and Jashore Jute Industries Limited of Jassore staged the protest.

Similar demonstrations were also observed in Chattogram and Narsingdi, New Age correspondents reported.

The New Age correspondent in Rajshshi University reported that state-owned Rajshahi Jute Mill workers and employees blockaded the Dhaka-Rajshahi highway for one hour on Monday to press home their demands.

More than one thousand workers and employees of the mill brought out a protest procession on the highway and blockaded the highway in front of the Rajshahi Mil Jute Mill main entrance at 10:00am causing huge traffic congestion.

Both long-route and city buses had to use alternative roads running extra kilometres.

Katakhali police station officer-in-charge Zillur Rahman told New Age that vehicle movement became normal after the workers withdrew blockade at about 11:00am.

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