Workers still in dark about govt jute mill closure

They suspend protests as no notification published  

Tapos Kanti Das and Moloy Saha | Published: 21:03, Jun 30,2020 | Updated: 01:26, Jul 01,2020


Platinum Jubilee Jute Mills workers hold a sit-in in Khulna on Tuesday protesting at the government decision to shut state-owned jute mills. — New Age photo

Labour leaders said they were still in dark about the process of closing the state-owned mills as the workers of mills in Khulna-Jashore region staged demonstration on Tuesday protesting against the decision.

The demonstration ended in the evening without an announcement of further programmes as the government was yet to publish any notice about closing the mills.

‘As the government published no notice, we hope that the mills are not closing right now. That is why we did not announce any further programme,’ Khulna-Jashore regional unit of Bangladesh Rastrayatto Patkol Rokhkha CBA-Non-CBA Sangram Parishad convener Sardar Abdul Hamid told New Age.

‘If the government publishes any circular or notice closing the mills, we will announce a further programme,’ he said.

Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad staged a demonstration in the capital while Left Democratic Alliance held a rally in Khulna protesting against the decision.

Different opposition political parties and alliances, including Jatiya Oikya Front, Bangladesh Nationalist Awami Party-Bangladesh NAP, Bangladesh Labour Party and Islami Andolan Bangladesh in separate statements protested against the government decision.

Khulna-Jashore regional unit Sangram Parishad joint convener Shahana Sharmin told New Age that they, until the evening, got no written document about the closure of the mills and were in dark about the process of the closure and the payment to the workers.

Jute and textile minister Golam Dastagir Gazi on Sunday said that the government was likely to close the public jute mills from July 1 due to recurring losses year after year.

He announced that about 25,000 workers of the mills would be offered a ‘golden handshake’ and that the mills would reopen under a public-private partnership arrangement within the next six months.

The minister could not be reached for comments despite several attempts over phone on Tuesday.

Asked about the implementation of the decision, textiles and jute secretary Lokman Hossain Miah declined to make any comment.

In Khulna and Jashore districts, labourers of nine state-owned mills began sit-in inside their respective mills under the banner of Sangram Parishad, demanding the withdrawal of the government decision.

The workers joined the demonstration at 2:00pm.

Speakers at the programme blamed the World Bank, administration and bureaucrats for conspiring to close the mills and insisted that the mills incurred losses due to the mismanagement and corruption of administrators.

The leaders alleged that the government took the decision of making the labourers jobless at a time when crores of people were becoming unemployed due to coronavirus crisis.

They said that if they were offered ‘golden handshake’, irregular workers would get nothing and the permanent workers, who worked for about 15 years, would get an insignificant sum with which they would not be able to do anything.

Addressing the SKOP demonstration in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka as the chair, Bangladesh Trade Union Centre president and veteran labour leader Shahidullah Chowdhury urged the government to refrain from implementing the decision as, he believed, it was possible to run the jute mills profitably by modernising them.

In their statement, Jatiya Oikya Front leaders on Tuesday alleged that the government decision to close state-owned jute mills was a part of blueprint for reviving the dying jute mills in West Bengal of India by destroying jute mills in Bangladesh.

Gono Forum president Dr Kamal Hossain, Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD president  ASM Abdur Rob, BNP standing committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nagarik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Gonoshasthya Kendra trustee Zafrullah Chowdhury and Bikalpadhara Bangladesh faction chairman Nurul Amin Byapari made the statement on behalf of JOF. 

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